Monday, November 23, 2020

Episode 552 (11-23-20): As the Seas Rise, Virginia Develops a Coastal Resilience Master Plan

 Click to listen to episode (4:38)

Sections below are the following:

Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 11-20-20.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of November 23, 2020.  This week, we focus on a Virginia state-government effort to prepare for and adapt to sea-level rise and recurrent flooding in coastal areas.  We set the stage with some music by Bob Gramann, of Fredericksburg, Va.

MUSIC – ~ 18 sec – Lyrics: “Half of a city awash in the tides; when I think of what happened, it tears my insides.  Oh, we could’ve been smarter, we could’ve have planned, but the world caught a fever, infected by man.”

You’ve been listening to part of “Cypress Canoe,” from the 2019 album, “I Made It Just For You.”  The song imagines a time in Alexandria, Va., when there’d be so much water that one would need a canoe to get to places formerly on land.  The song’s a commentary on the current and potential impacts of sea-level rise on coastal communities, and in the part you heard, the story-teller bemoans a lack of planning to avoid or reduce those impacts.

Planning ways to deal with sea-level rise, coastal flooding, and other impacts from climate change is what the Commonwealth of Virginia aims to do with its Coastal Resilience Master Plan.  In October 2020, Governor Ralph Northam announced an important step towards that plan: the Virginia Coastal Master Planning Framework.  According to an October 22 news release from the governor’s office, the 300+-page Framework is, quote, “a roadmap that puts the full strength of the Commonwealth into creating a comprehensive Coastal Resilience Master Plan that will protect communities, commerce, and the coastal environment,” unquote.  It includes details on the science of sea-level rise and other risks, the specific threats to Virginia, and the Commonwealth areas affected.  The coastal and Tidewater areas to be addressed in the plan cover 8950 square miles, or about one-fourth of Virginia’s land area, and over 10,000 miles of tidally influenced shoreline.  According to the Framework, over 70 percent of Virginia’s population lives in areas to be covered by the plan.

The Framework identifies five guiding principles for developing the Master Plan: 1) acknowledging climate change and using the best-available science; 2) addressing socioeconomic inequities; 3) protecting and enhancing natural coastal barriers and other “green infrastructure”; 4) utilizing community and regional planning; and 5) focusing on the most cost-effective solutions for communities to protect their assets and adapt to changes.

The Framework also identifies three next steps on the way toward having the full plan ready by late 2021.  Those include creating a technical advisory committee; involving the existing Coastal Zone Management Program in the planning process; and holding a series of community roundtables to inform citizens and get their input.

Thanks to Bob Gramann for permission to use part of “Cypress Canoe.”  We close with part of another climate change-appropriate song by Virginia musicians.  Here’s about 20 seconds of “Rains Come,” by the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, Va.-based band, The Steel Wheels.

MUSIC – ~19 sec –Lyrics: “But no one ever told me it would be like this.  When the rains come, when the rains come, is it gonna be a new day?”


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“Cypress Canoe,” from the 2019 album “I Made It Just for You,” is copyright by Bob Gramann, used with permission.  More information about Bob Gramann is available online at  This music was featured in Virginia Water Radio Episode 494, 10-14-19, which was also on sea-level rise and coastal flooding.

“Rains Come,” from the 2019 album “Over the Trees,” is copyright by The Steel Wheels, used with permission.  A July 2019 review by Americana Highways of this album and track is available online at  More information about The Steel Wheels is available online at, at, and in a July 2015 article at

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at


The following two images are the cover and Figure 8 (page 30) of the “Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework,” October 2020, online (as a PDF) at




Following is an excerpt from the October 22, 2020, news release from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s office, Governor Northam Announces Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework.

NORFOLK—Governor Ralph Northam today released the Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework, which lays out the core principles of the Commonwealth’s approach to coastal protection and adaptation, and will serve as a blueprint for implementing Virginia’s first project-driven Coastal Resilience Master Plan by the end of 2021. …

“The Virginia Coastal Master Planning Framework is the result of a nearly two-year process initiated by the Governor in Executive Order Twenty-Four [online as a PDF at this link] involving state agencies, key stakeholders, and local and regional partners to develop mitigation strategies to reduce the near and long term impacts of natural hazards and extreme weather.  This document is a roadmap that puts the full strength of the Commonwealth into creating a comprehensive Coastal Resilience Master Plan that will protect communities, commerce, and the coastal environment.  The approach recognizes the scientific and fiscal realities—and challenges—that underserved communities in both urban and rural areas are facing, and emphasizes local and regional efforts to combat flooding and protect people and assets. Governor Northam will take executive action in the coming days to implement important components of the Framework.

“Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the Commonwealth and the United States.  Along Virginia’s coast, it is exacerbated by pollution-driven global warming, which leads to sea level rise and more extreme weather patterns.  And the impacts of sea level rise and flooding are magnified by population density: Virginia’s coastal region is home to more than 70 percent of the Commonwealth’s population.  In recent years, these factors, combined with development in flood-prone areas, have increased flood risk in the Commonwealth’s coastal communities.  In 2018 and 2019, Virginia experienced nine major flooding events with damaging totaling approximately $1.6 billion. Virginia has the highest rate of sea level rise of any east coast state, putting billions of dollars in private property and public infrastructure in danger.

“The Virginia Coastal Master Planning Framework takes decisive steps to address these threats by [the following]:

Aligning state government hazard mitigation efforts to maximize support for coastal resilience;

Dividing coastal Virginia into four planning regions for the purposes of the Master Plan;

Establishing a Technical Advisory Committee to further define regional approaches and to help evaluate and prioritize projects;

Emphasizing the importance of green infrastructure and strategic relocation to reduce flood risk and provide additional community benefits;

Elevating the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program to support the development and implementation of the Master Plan;

Initiating a comprehensive public outreach effort to receive input from all impacted communities, particularly those that are underserved. …

“The Framework will also help inform the development of guidance for coastal flood protection grants and loans under the Community Flood Preparedness Fund, to which Governor Northam and the General Assembly have dedicated 45 percent of the revenue from Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative carbon credit auctions that begin next spring.  These auctions are estimated to generate approximately $500 million over the next decade to address coastal and riverine flooding statewide.  This significant stream of dedicated revenue will help ensure progress in implementing the Framework and Master Plan. …”


Used for Audio

Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Office, “Coastal Adaptation and Resilience Master Plan,” online at  The entire “Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework,” October 2020 (314 pages), is online (as a PDF) at; a three-page overview is online (as a PDF) at 

For More Information about Sea Level Rise, Coastal and Tidal Flooding, and Resilience 

John Boon et al., “Planning for Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding,” Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), October 2008, online (as PDF) at

City of Alexandria, Va., “Flood Mitigation,” online at

City of Hampton, Va., “Dutch Dialogues,” undated, online at

City of Norfolk, Va., “Flood Awareness and Mitigation,” online at

City of Virginia Beach Department of Public Works, “Sea Level Wise,” online at

Coastal Resilience, online at Coastal Resilience/Virginia is online at

John A. Church et al., “Sea Level Change,” Chapter 13 of Climate Change 2013—The Physical Science Basis, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), online at  The full Physical Science Basis report, from the IPCC Working Group 1, is online at  The physical science report is part of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report in 2013-2014, online at; “2014 Synthesis Report” of the Fifth Assessment is online at

Sandy Hausman, “Online Tool Helps Coastal Communities Plan for Climate Change,” WVTF FM-Roanoke, Va., 10/11/18, 2 min./34 sec. audio

Joey Holleman, “Designing for Water—Strategies to Mitigate Flood Impacts,” Coastal Heritage, Winter 2019, South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, online at

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate,” September 2019, online at

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “U.S. ties record for number of high tide flooding days in 2018; New report cites El Nino and sea level rise as factors for expected increase in 2019,” News Release, 7/10/19.

Jason Samenow, Tropical Storm Melissa and hunter’s moon lead to tidal flooding along Potomac and Chesapeake Bay, Washington Post, 10/13/19.

Rita Abou Samra, “Alexandria is already often waterlogged. How will it adjust to climate change?” 9/13/18, for Greater Greater Washington, online at, “Virginia’s Sea Level Is Rising—And It’s Costing Over $4 Billion,” online at

U.S. Climate Variability and Predictability Program (US CLIVAR), “Sea Level Hotspots from Florida to Maine—Drivers, Impacts, and Adaptation,” April 23-25, 2019, workshop in Norfolk, Va., online at

Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), “U.S. Sea Level Report Cards,” online at

Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), “Recurrent Flooding Study for Tidewater Virginia,” 2013, available online (as a PDF) at  This study was significant in the Virginia General Assembly’s formation in 2014 of the Joint Subcommittee to Formulate Recommendations for the Development of a Comprehensive and Coordinated Planning Effort to Address Recurrent Flooding.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)/Center for Coastal Resources Management, “Climate Change and Coastal Resilience,” online at  This site includes a 40-second video on sea level rise in Virginia and a 40-second video on nuisance flooding.

Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at See particularly the following:
2014 HJR 16 and SJR 3, calling for formation of the Joint Subcommittee to Formulate Recommendations for the Development of a Comprehensive and Coordinated Planning Effort to Address Recurrent Flooding;
2016 HJ 84 and SJ 58, continuing the work of the joint subcommittee formed in 2014 and changing it to the Joint Subcommittee on Coastal Flooding; and 2016 SB 282, establishing the Virginia Shoreline Resiliency Fund.

Sarah Vogelsong, The most important profession fighting sea-level rise you’ve never heard of, Virginia Mercury, 10/2/19.  This article discusses the role of landscape architects in responding to the stormwater challenges increased by sea-level rise.

Wetlands Watch, “Dutch Dialogues—Virginia: Life at Sea Level,” online at

William and Mary Law School/Virginia Coastal Policy Center, 7th Annual Conference: “The Three P’s of Resilience: Planning, Partnerships, and Paying for It All,” November 15, 2019, Williamsburg, Va., online at this link.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the “Weather/Climate/Natural Disasters” subject category.  

Following are links to some previous episodes on climate change, sea-level rise, and coastal flooding in Virginia.

Episode 231, 9-15-14 – Climate change impacts in Virginia National Park Service units, including Assateague Island National Seashore.

Episode 441, 10-8-18
– on sea-level rise and citizen measurement of king tides.

Episode 494, 10-14-19
– on sea-level rise and coastal flooding.

Episode 511, 2-10-20
– on sea-level rise and the Saltmarsh Sparrow.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs 

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs 

Grades K-5 Earth and Space Systems

4.4 – Weather conditions and climate effects on ecosystems and can be predicted.

4.7 – The ocean environment.

Grades K-5 Earth Resources

3.8 – Natural and human influences on ecosystems.

4.8 – Virginia’s important natural resources.

Grade 6

6.6 – Water’s unique physical properties and role in the natural and human-made environments.

6.8 – Land and water roles in watershed systems.

6.9 – Human impacts on the environment, including public policy decisions related to energy and the environment.

Life Science

LS.8     – Change in ecosystems, communities, populations, and organisms over time.

LS.9     – Relationships exist between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Earth Science

ES.6 – Resource use and its complexities.

ES.10 – Oceans as complex, dynamic systems subject to long- and short-term variations.

ES.11 – The atmosphere as a complex, dynamic system subject to long-and short-term variations.

ES.12 – The Earth’s weather and climate as the result of the interaction of the sun’s energy with the atmosphere, oceans, and the land.


BIO.8 – Dynamic equilibria within populations, communities, and ecosystems.

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Virginia Studies Course

VS.10 – Knowledge of government, geography, and economics in present-day Virginia.

United States History: 1865-to-Present Course

USII.9 – Domestic and international issues during the second half of the 20th Century and the early 21st Century.

Civics and Economics Course

CE.6 – Government at the national level.

CE.7 – Government at the state level.

CE.8 – Government at the local level.

CE.10 – Public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course

WG.2 – How selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.

WG.18 – Cooperation among political jurisdictions to solve problems and settle disputes.

Virginia and United States History Course

VUS.14 – Political and social conditions in the 21st Century.

Government Course

GOVT.7 – National government organization and powers.

GOVT.8 – State and local government organization and powers.

GOVT.9 – Public policy process at local, state, and national levels.

GOVT.15 – Role of government in Va. and U.S. economies, including examining environmental issues and property rights.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.

Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.

Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.

Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.

Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.

Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.

Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.

Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.

Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.

Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.

Episode 524, 5-11-20 – on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.

Episode 531, 6-29-20 – on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.

Episode 539, 8-24-20 – on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.