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Current Researchers:
  • Dr.Stephen Sheppard, PhD
  • David Flanders
  • Sara Barron
  • Sara Muir Owen
Past Researchers:
  • Kristi Tatebe
  • Ellen Pond
  • Glenis Canete
  • Jeff Carmichael

Delta-RAC Sea Level Rise Adaptation Visioning Study (Delta-RAC)

The goal of Delta-RAC Sea Level Rise Adaptation Visioning Study is to support decision-making and further policy development for flood management in the Corporation of Delta.

The Corporation of Delta is a low-lying municipality at the mouth of the Fraser River delta. Home to 100,000 citizens, a large portion of the community is at considerable risk from climate change induced sea-level rise and storm surges. While the Province of B.C. provides guidelines and tools for flood risk management, it is the responsibility of local governments to define their flood hazards, integrate these with land use planning policies and implement sufficient flood protection. Uncertainty in climate science and lack of effective engagement tools make it difficult for local governments to build public support for flood-related policy and action. Previous research on climate change response options, using flood scenario visualization, has proven effective in developing community awareness and support for adaptation needs (Tatebe et al. 2010).

The Delta-RAC Sea Level Rise Adaptation Visioning Study (Delta-RAC) builds on prior work between CALP and Delta (Tatebe et al. 2010), using adaptation scenarios and 3D landscape visualizations in a visioning process to explore a range of alternative response options to sea level rise. The goal is to support decision-making and further policy development for flood management in the Corporation of Delta.

This work has been carried out as part of the BC Regional Adaptation Collaborative (RAC) project. The BC RAC is funded by Natural Resources Canada and includes close to 20 projects addressing water and climate change adaptation across BC. The Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP) at the University of British Columbia partnered with the Corporation of Delta and the BC Ministry of Environment to identify, model, visualize and evaluate flood adaptation options in Delta. The project took place between 2009 – 2012.

Delta has a progressive history as a leader in climate change work. The RAC project follows the Local Climate Change Visioning project, an earlier collaboration between UBC CALP and the Corporation of Delta, funded by the GEIODE National Centres of Excellence (Shaw et al. 2009, Burch et al. 2010, Tatebe et al. 2010). Delta is also participating in the high-level adaptation planning program developed by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).

This project draws on prior flood risk and management studies prepared for the Corporation of Delta, particularly the 2010 Delta Flood Risk and Consequence Study prepared by Delcan DHV and the 2007 Flood Management Study prepared by Kerr Wood Leidal.

Through the RAC project, CALP and Delta commissioned an additional study on flood-risk assessment, which resulted in the 2011 Delcan DHV Technical Memo on Sea Level Rise Dike Breach Analysis.
The Delta-RAC project built on existing research and knowledge of local climate change vulnerability to identify, visualize and evaluate hard and soft adaptation options to coastal flood risk due to sea level rise. Following the broad principles of the Local Climate Change Visioning (LCCV) process (Pond et al. 2010), the project explored how mapping and visualizations, based on local climate science of sea level rise, storm surge, and increased storm-water in Delta, BC, can advance land use planning decision-making and implementation for adaptation to anticipated flood issues. As a local climate change case study, the project aims to inform the development of best practice guidelines and other adaptation tools, including science-based visualization techniques, in order to provide a precedent for municipal decision-making and land use planning related to climate change in other BC communities.

The Delta-RAC project is one case study in a larger set of projects funded by GEOIDE that is testing the effectiveness of geo-visualization tools and participatory processes to support decision-making around climate change (Pond et al. 2012).

As part of the BC RAC project, the Delta project incorporated findings from other teams, such as the Ministry of Environment’s updated Sea Dike Guidelines, Guidelines for Management of Coastal Flood Hazard Land Use, and draft Policy Discussion Paper (Ausenco Sandwell 2011(a)(b)(c)).

This project did not examine the effects of other potential threats such as earthquakes, tsunami, Fraser river floods, intense rain storms, liquefaction, peak oil, environmental refugees, accelerated climate change, salt wedge intrusion, human impacts of a flooding event (loss of life, etc.), and sea level rise impacts on gravity-based storm-water and waste-water systems.

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