Experts Shape Future of Climate Change Resiliency in ODU-ICAR Forum in Partnership With Chesapeake Bay Foundation

ODU-ICAR Forum Bridged Knowledge Gaps in Innovative Solutions to Sea Level Rise

As Virginia confronts increasing climate change risks, Old Dominion University’s Institute for Coastal Adaptation & Resilience (ODU-ICAR), in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, convened experts from diverse backgrounds May 7 to help shape the future of nature-based resilience design solutions.

Engineers, landscape architects, stormwater officials, resilience officers, planners, and consultants fostered a rich dialogue on nature-based design solutions implemented beyond Virginia's borders, bridging the gap between science and practice. The forum drew more than 175 participants. 

“Nature-based solutions are an essential tool to build community resilience in the face of  rising seas while reducing pollution and enhancing natural resources. ODU-ICAR’s forum helped inspire how we will construct the sustainable cities of tomorrow here in the Commonwealth, enabling us to build on our successes and become more proactive in the face of climate change,” Chesapeake Bay Foundation Policy Advisor Jay Ford said.  

The effects of climate change are evident in the Chesapeake Bay region, with repeated flooding in coastal areas contributing to septic system failures, battered businesses and infrastructure, as well as increased pollution washing into local waterways. 

Hampton Roads has among the highest rate of sea level rise on the East Coast, experiencing a foot and a half of relative sea level rise over the last century. Rates are projected to more than double in the years to come.

Rather than relying on materials such as concrete or asphalt, nature-based solutions depend on natural elements to prevent erosion. Large scale shoreline protection techniques such as living shorelines, which use native plants and grasses, or living breakwaters and oyster reefs, all stabilize the waterfront against the force of waves and storms. These solutions provide benefits beyond flood control, such as creating public recreational spaces, critical habitat for wildlife, and reducing pollution. 

Smaller scale techniques, like rain gardens, tree boxes, vegetated swales, permeable pavers, rain barrels, and downspout disconnections, hold and filter rainwater into the ground rather than letting it wash off hard streets and buildings and into creeks and rivers. This relieves pressure on overwhelmed city systems that struggle with the regular deluge of polluted runoff.

“As Virginia’s communities develop their visions to adapt to climate change, nature-based designs are a key instrument in the tool box,” said Jessica Whitehead, the Executive Director of ICAR. “Today’s symposium brought together leading research in nature-based design from across the United States, and allowed us to discuss the opportunities and dual benefits of working with nature in coastal Virginia.”

ODU’s Institute for Coastal Adaptation & Resilience (ODU-ICAR) advances the practice of coastal resilience and adaptation by engaging with communities, organizations and businesses to develop and deploy solutions based on integrated, innovative and applied research. The institute operates in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF).

Kenny Fletcher 90x110

Kenny Fletcher

Director of Communications and Media Relations, CBF

[email protected]

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