Climate Change Resiliency

Climate change and sea level rise caused by global warming pose serious threats to both natural and human communities throughout Greater Philadelphia.

Yesterday's climate no longer provides a reliable guide for planning the future. Communities must first identify how expected changes in climate will exacerbate on-going threats and introduce new vulnerabilities to build resilience. Fortunately, adapting to climate change will not require brand new efforts. Existing initiatives like green infrastructure, smart growth, floodplain management, ecological restoration, asset management, and urban greening will make our communities more resilient to climate-related threats. Communities can leverage these efforts by incorporating the best understanding of projected climate impacts into their plans, projects and investment decisions.


Current Projects

Pennsylvania Coastal Resiliency

With funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), DVRPC is working with communities in the Delaware Estuary Coastal Zone (DECZ) to help build their capacity to plan for and respond to future floods, including flooding from storm surge, stormwater, and high tides.

In 2019, DVRPC created a story map of current and future flooding scenarios in the PA DECZ. DVRPC developed the story map in response to prior work, in which DVRPC staff and other partners engaged with DECZ municipalities to better understand their flooding issues. The survey responses also led to the development of other resources, including posters tailored to each municipality, hard-copy sea level rise maps, and this webpage.

Climate Adaptation Forum

The Climate Adaptation Forum is an ongoing series of DVRPC-hosted, half-day workshops. It brings together professionals currently engaged in preparing for climate change across the region.

Chester City Green Stormwater Infrastructure

To implement recommendations from the City of Chester Climate Change Resiliency Element published in June 2014, DVRPC obtained a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to design and plan a green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) program in Chester. DVRPC has contracted with CH2M to design and engineer a GSI system for Memorial Park in Chester. Final designs and plans are expected to be complete in fall 2016.

New Jersey Resilient Coastal Community Initiative

As part of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Resilient Coastal Communities Initiative, DVRPC worked with six municipalities along the Delaware River to assess vulnerabilities to coastal hazards and develop strategies to improve resiliency. Vulnerability assessments were based on detailed storm surge and sea level rise data and mapping.

Integrating Hazard Mitigation and Comprehensive Planning

DVRPC is partnering with FEMA Region III to develop strategies to better integrate hazard mitigation into local comprehensive plans. This work is informed by lessons learned from the region's county planning agencies and emergency management offices.

PennDOT Extreme Weather Resiliency Study

PennDOT is conducting a vulnerability and risk assessment for the state's transportation infrastructure. As a member of the steering committee, DVRPC brings its experience conducting similar vulnerability assessments to the team. The goal of the study is to prioritize efforts to increase resilience with a view to long-term cost saving.

Highlights of Past Work

NJDOT-FHWA vulnerability assessment [2.3 MB pdf]

This vulnerability assessment was one of 5 FHWA-sponsored pilots across the country to test FHWA's climate change vulnerability assessment framework. The final assessment was published by NJTPA in early 2012.

Chester City Climate Change Resiliency Element [7.1 MB pdf]

This document was prepared by DVRPC and PA Sea Grant in conjunction with the City of Chester and was adopted as an element into the city's comprehensive plan, City of Chester Vision 2020, in June 2014. This is Pennsylvania's first municipally-adopted climate change adaptation plan.

A Vulnerability and Risk Assessment of SEPTA's Regional Rail

DVRPC partnered with private consulting firm ICF and SEPTA to conduct an analysis of climate-related risks and vulnerabilities to the Norristown line. Using this information as a baseline, the study team projected future costs by calculating increases and/or decreases in extreme events through downscaled modeling. The final report was published by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in August 2013.

Sea Level Rise Impacts in the Delaware Estuary of Pennsylvania

This seminal report, published by DVRPC in 2004, investigates the potential impacts of sea level rise on wetlands, salinity, water quality, public access, and hazardous waste sites in Pennsylvania's coastal zone.

    State and Local Governments Plan for Development of Most Land Vulnerable to Rising Sea Level along the U.S. Atlantic Coast

    DVRPC staff contributed to an article regarding rising sea level and its possible policy implications for federal wetlands regulations.