Problem

The State of George endures very intense coastal storms and hurricanes with high winds and heavy rains which are becoming stronger due to climate change.  The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Office of Coastal Management wanted to study and evaluate current and future risk from the wind and flood related impacts of future hurricanes.

 

Solution

The Georgia DNR obtained funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to study and evaluate current and future risk from the wind and flood related impacts of future hurricanes. They asked The Polis Center, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Space Science and Engineering Center, to help with the assessment.

Predictive Modeling

Polis’ involvement in this two-year project followed work we had done for Georgia. This study produced a regional potential economic and social impact assessment for probable storm-scenarios for the 11-county Georgia coastal area. It was based on innovative simulations of potential predicted impacts of long-term hazards, such as sea level rise, resulting from more intense coastal storms.  To capture high and low frequency hurricane events in coastal Georgia, three hurricane scenarios (Categories 1, 4, and 5) and their associated storm surge were analyzed. We also conducted two scenarios to capture the impacts of rainfall from hurricanes. These two scenarios along with  wind and storm surge simulations captured the impacts from hurricanes land falling in Georgia under current and future climates.

The study, completed in 2017, helps local decision-makers and coastal stakeholders better understand coastal Georgia’s vulnerability to long-term hazards, which is critical for successful long-term implementation of future planning.  Informed preparation for the inevitable risks and changes will lessen negative impacts to the public in terms of economics, health and culture. Given Georgia’s vast expanse of coastal estuaries and rivers, preservation of healthy ecosystems through appropriate planning tremendously benefits Georgia’s general public by preserving opportunities for livelihood and recreation. As a result of local leadership’s education through this project, the general public too will develop increased resiliency.

Polis and the University of Wisconsin, in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, are currently engaged in a new study that builds on the prior work.  We are conducting a detailed analysis of the potential of green infrastructure and other selected mitigation actions to reduce the impacts of future storms in selected local communities along the Georgia coastline.  This study will be backed by dozens of current and future modeled simulations and will be completed in 2019.  It is anticipated to provide guidance that is relevant not only to the modeled communities, but to others in the Georgia coastal region as well.