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Research Needs Discussed at Climate Change/Sea Level Rise Roundtable

Local political, business and military leaders attended a roundtable with Old Dominion researchers about the ODU Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative (CCSLRI) on Wednesday.

The event, held in the Webb Center Board Room, had an engineering focus. It was designed to identify research needs to understand the potential impacts sea level rise will have on regional infrastructure.

Oktay Baysal, dean of the Batten College of Engineering and Technology, said the university's engineering expertise will play a key role in researching the potential effects on Hampton Roads infrastructure of ocean levels that are rising nearly two inches per decade.

"Among them are coastal and marine engineering, risk-based designs, critical infrastructures that include roads, bridges and tunnels, the power grid and their vulnerability," Baysal said.

The forum was attended by officials from each of the Hampton Roads communities, the Virginia Department of Transportation, Wetlands Watch and the Naval Fleet-Mid Atlantic, as well as by local business leaders.

Participants discussed what kind of climate change information engineers need, in what form and with what degree of accuracy, in making planning decisions. The region's short-, intermediate and long-term infrastructure needs were also discussed, and information was shared about the region's physical infrastructure, modeling and the future of communications.

The roundtable concluded with an effort to identify specific future engineering needs (such as mapping requirements, coastal hydraulics, geomorphology and inundation) for the region, to mitigate the effects of climate change and sea rise.

One of three ODU officials who gave welcoming remarks at the roundtable, Baysal also said ODU is hosting an international conference in November, which will bring together worldwide experts on the topic of critical infrastructures.

Also welcoming roundtable participants were Provost Carol Simpson and CCSLRI leader Larry Atkinson, Slover Professor of Oceanography.

The ODU Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative was created in 2010 by President Broderick, in recognition that the university, as a large, coastal, urban research institution, is uniquely positioned to feel the effects of rising sea levels.

With this threat in mind, and believing that all six colleges at ODU can help address the challenges such a threat presents, Broderick decided to institute a university-wide initiative to scrutinize sea level rise. His message was directed not only to the obvious base disciplines of oceanography, marine biology, coastal engineering and civil engineering, but also to sociology and marketing, economics and risk management, public health and political science, human factors psychology and journalism, education and modeling and simulation. The initiative is designed to identify the multifaceted impact that climate change and rising sea levels will have on heavily populated coastal regions.

This article was posted on: August 12, 2011

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