In June 2021, CIRCA hosted a Resilient Connecticut climate change research webinar series. Focused on specific topics and condensed on time, each event included ~ 20 minutes of presentation and 10 minutes of Q&A, moderated by CIRCA's Assistant Director of Research, Dr. Yaprak Onat.  Below is a quick look at the dates, topics, and speakers. For more information about each project can be found below in the Program Details, including an abstract, fact sheet, presentation slides, YouTube webinar recording, and related news.

Dates Topics Speakers - click for bios
Monday, June 7, 12:00 - 12:30
Stakeholder evaluation to inform large-scale resilience planning Miriah Kelly
Wednesday, June 9, 12:00 - 12:30
Real Estate Values, Tax Revenues, and Climate Change-Induced Retreat from Flood Zones Charles Towe
Friday, June 11, 12:00 - 12:30
Modeling Nearshore Dynamics of Extreme Storms in Complex Environments of Connecticut Chang Liu


Monday, June 14, 12:00 - 12:30 Extreme Precipitation and Riverine Flood Risk Xinyi Shen
Wednesday, June 16, 12:00 - 12:30 Simulation and Momentum Analysis of Tides Over the Salt Marsh at Guilford, CT Yan Jia
Friday, June 18, 12:00 - 12:30 GIS Modeling of Urban Flood Prone Areas Caterina Massidda
Monday, June 21, 12:00 - 12:30 Change in Heat Vulnerability and Land-use Influence Mariana Fragomeni
Wednesday, June 23, 12:00 - 12:30 Transit Oriented Development Rosalie Ray
Friday, June 25, 12:00 - 12:20

Friday, June 25, 12:20 - 1:00

Legal & Policy Tools for Climate Resilience

Policy Panel - Discussion with Research Teams

Louanne Cooley

Joe MacDougald, Jim O'Donnell - moderators

Webinar Program Details

    Stakeholder Evaluation to Inform Large-Scale Resilience Planning

    Monday, June 7, 12:00

    Presenter: Miriah Kelly

    In this presentation, you’ll learn:

    • A framework to assess stakeholder goals related to climate change in New Haven and Fairfield County
    • The needs and priorities of diverse stakeholders considering climate change preparedness

    Project Fact Sheet

    Miriah Kelly Presentation Slides

    Miriah Kelly Webinar YouTube Recording


    Stakeholder assessment efforts are being conducted to inform the Resilient Connecticut project in a variety of ways. Many researchers agree that assessment and evaluation are key to effectively engaging stakeholders, and systems for monitoring and evaluating stakeholder engagement goals are also pivotal to the success of a project. To this end, the Resilient Connecticut project sought to better understand, from a regional perspective, the interests, priorities, and needs of broad and diverse stakeholders in the coastal two-county study area. After collaboratively developing a robust sampling frame of broad and diverse stakeholder organizations, the team piloted and distributed a digital survey to organizations in the study region. 156 organizations responded to the request, resulting in a 29% response rate. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected using Qualtrics digital survey data collection software. Quantitative data were exported to the Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) for data cleaning and analysis. Qualitative data were exported to NVivo for thematic coding and analysis. In this presentation, the methods for collecting and analyzing the data are shared, key findings from the study are reported, and primary conclusions are presented.

    About the Presenter:

    Dr. Miriah M. Russo Kelly (she/her) is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Science in the Department of Environment, Geography, and Marine Sciences at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, CT. Dr. Kelly’s teaching and research focuses on the human dimensions of ocean and coastal climate change issues. Dr. Kelly works in the area of environmental management and decision-making, and studies collaborative and transdisciplinary approaches to addressing complex environmental problems. Dr. Kelly is also dedicated to translational environmental sciences, including environmental communication, environmental education, and environmental engagement.

    Real Estate Values, Tax Revenues, and Climate Change-Induced Retreat from Flood Zones

    Wednesday, June 9, 12:00 pm

    Presenter: Charles Towe 

    In this presentation you’ll learn:

    • The effect of a variety of shoreline amenities on housing prices and estimates useful in simulating shoreline retreat outcomes.
    • Estimates of some possible avenues to revenue recovery post-buy out by examining possible neighborhood effects.

    UConn Today Feature Article:

    Should We Stay or Should We Go? Shoreline Homes and Rising Sea Levels in Connecticut

    Project Fact Sheet

    Charles Towe Presentation Slides

    Charles Towe Webinar YouTube Recording


    This study focuses on the coastal communities of Connecticut and uses housing market transaction data from 2000-2020 to estimate the price impacts of coastal amenities. Specifically, we find values for the view of Long Island Sound in both expanse and connectedness, and we separately estimate the premium for coast front property versus across the street from the coast or river front. Coast front homes see an almost 40% premium where being across the street from the coast is 27% whereas the cost of being in the floodplain is a -2.5%. These parameters feed into policy simulations of coastal retreat. Some simulations focus on removal costs and contiguity and some primarily on those most impacted by sea-level rise. Under a fairly conservative set of assumptions, we find it possible to recoup a small percentage of the lost revenue stream from removal. These values accrue to neighboring homes and amount to approximately 14% of lost revenue.

    Charles Towe is an environmental economist with extensive experience in land use and using housing market data to value resources and amenities. His primary research interests include climate adaptation, water quality, and policy evaluation.

    Modeling Nearshore Dynamics of Extreme Storms in Complex Environments of Connecticut

    Friday, June 11, 12:00 pm

    Presenter: Chang Liu

    In this presentation, you’ll learn:

    • About CIRCA’s new higher-resolution nearshore model that resolves both surge and wave levels in complex shoreline environments.
    • Differences between this new modeling approach and FEMA’s base flood elevation approach, NACCS and CIRCA’s coarser-resolution ocean model.

    Project Fact Sheet

    Chang Liu Presentation Slides

    Chang Liu Webinar YouTube Recording


    Flood hazard planning requires the accurate estimation of total water elevation due to predicted tide, surge, and wave runup to design flood protection structures and improve coastal risk planning for severe storms. The beach formation and nearshore hydrodynamic conditions impact the conclusive flood inundation mapping in complex environments. The conventional approaches of flood modeling are limited due to either 1) using bathtub approach, 2) applications in larger resolutions, 3) failing to calibrate and validate with real-time data, or 4) not considering sea-level rise projections in mapping the flood extent. We used a high-resolution wave model (FUNWAVE-TVD) capable of resolving complex wave transformations on the coastal area to determine total water elevation on the shores. This model uses CIRCA’s Long Island Sound Ocean Model and resolves waves and surge levels along the coast. We applied the model to Branford, Norwalk, and New Haven, CT. This high resolution model is also compared with the FEMA base flood elevation, the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS), and CIRCA’s Long Island Sound Ocean (FVCOM-SWAVE) model to show the differences in 1% annual exceedance probability storm total water elevations.  

    Extreme Precipitation and Riverine Flood Risk

    Monday, June 14, 12:00 pm

    Presenter: Xinyi Shen

    In this presentation you'll learn:

    • Potential flood impacts of historic weather events on riverine areas.
    • Changes in the flood extent due to impervious land cover.

    UConn Today Feature Article:

    Don’t Get Soaked: Flood Damage Could Lessen if Cities Build Smarter 

    Project Fact Sheet

    Xinyi Shen Presentation Slides

    Xinyi Shen Webinar YouTube Recording


    Understanding and quantifying the flood impacts and damages on critical infrastructures is of great importance in flood risk evaluation and management, especially for coastal areas affected by both large streamflow and high surge. Meanwhile, the changing climate and land use are expected to increase the likelihood and intensity of flood damages due to the exacerbated effect of river flows with rainfall and sea-level rise. This study presents the framework that combines Coupled Routing and Excess Storage (CREST) with Hydrologic Engineering Center's River Analysis System (HEC-RAS) model to simulate flood inundations and flood levels for selected regions. The weather data used in the CREST model is from the National Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS) to obtain hourly streamflow simulation. The streamflow simulation from the CREST model is then imported to HEC-RAS model as the boundary condition in the selected 2-D flow area, together with the geometric data and surge data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to force the unsteady flow analysis. The HEC-RAS output provides detailed flood mapping and flood animations showing the dynamics of inundated areas and inundation depth.   The impact of land-use change is also verified by running the CREST model with two different imperviousness data in 1980 and 2018. The results demonstrate higher flood risks with exacerbated streamflow leading to larger flood extent and higher inundation depth when imperviousness increases from 1980 to 2018. This approach provides estimated potential flood impacts of historical weather events and also applicable to flood vulnerability evaluation in future climate conditions. The results could serve as guidance to assist the managers with the evaluation and effectiveness of climate adaptation scenario planning at selected sites.

    Simulation and Momentum Analysis of Tides Over the Salt Marsh at Guilford, CT

    Wednesday, June 16, 12:00 pm

    Presenter: Yan Jia

    In this presentation, you’ll learn:

    • About a factor affecting water exchange in marsh systems and how it impacts the flooding prediction.
    • Which model best describes the water exchange in narrow marsh inlets.

    UConn Today Feature Article:

    A Simple Simulation to Help Coastal Towns Plan for Rising Sea Levels

    Project Fact Sheet

    Yan Jia Presentation Slides

    Yan Jia Webinar YouTube Recording


    Numerous inlets and culverts connect coves and salt marshes to the Connecticut coastal waters. Marsh and culverts affect the amount of flooding extent and create challenges in predicting flood prediction. Observations show a narrow inlet (~16 ft) limits water exchange at a marsh basin. According to the case study in Guildford, CT the tidal amplitude drops 1/3 through the inlet, from 3.3 ft at the open water to 2.16 ft inside the mash. The effect of inlet width on the tidal exchange between two idealized basins is studied numerically by using four hydrodynamic models (ROMS, FVCOM, ADCIRC, and SCHISM). The along-inlet water level drop is primarily caused by horizontal eddy viscosity, which is related to the turbulent transfer of energy. For the no-slip scenario, where the speed of the water layer is identical to the speed of the boundary, the across-inlet flow shear is augmented along the inlet banks and leads to a large along-inlet water level drop. For the slip scenario with relative movement between the water and the boundary, water levels drop downstream at both inlet mouths where the changing of flow divergence enhances the horizontal eddy viscosity. All the no-slip model results are more consistent with the Guilford observation. ROMS, FVCOM, and SCHISM give comparable constraints, while ADICR is much less. The results can direct model selection and grid design in coastal modeling. In addition, two simple predicting models are built based on the above two scenarios, which provide quick and useful guidance on exchange rates between basins for ecologists and engineers.

    GIS Modeling of Urban Flood Prone Areas

    Friday, June 18, 12:00 pm

    Presenter: Caterina Massidda

    In this presentation, you’ll learn:

    • How flood scenario extents are changing in New Haven and how it affects infrastructure and community lifelines.
    • To visualize how preventative flood control structures may change the flood impact on important infrastructure.

    UConn Today Feature Article 

    For Future Flood Control, Cities Need Strategy

    Project Fact Sheet

    Caterina Massidda Presentation Slides

    Caterina Massidda Webinar YouTube Recording 


    The current trend of increasing sea level rise and climate change is a threat for coastal areas. GIS modelling of an urban area can guide policymakers to take informed decisions on planning and infrastructure development. Using the FUNWAVE model in nearshore environments, we modeled two different wave and storm surge flooding scenarios (the 10-year and 100-year return period) for New Haven Harbor. Through the output of the flood simulations using GIS, we estimated the amount of water on the streets (including sidewalks and parking), buildings, and lifelines. We also focused on how the properties affected by flooding changes around the area of New Haven Tweed Airport under different scenarios. This study aims to increase the understanding of flooding in urban areas by preparing communication tools via maps.

    Change in Heat Vulnerability and Land-use Influence

    Monday, June 21, 12:00 pm

    Presenter: Mariana Fragomeni

    In this presentation you'll learn:

    • Variations in the surface temperatures from a 20-year analysis that lead to the intensification of the urban heat islands.
    • The linkage between different land covers and heat absorption that will inform decision making.

    UConn Today Feature Article:

    • CIRCA Webinar Presents Changes to Land Surface Temperature, Land Use in New Haven, Fairfield Counties 'Heat islands' in urban areas have experienced a five-to-10-degree temperature increase over the past 20 years
    CT Post Article
    • Some CT communities are getting hotter - faster, study shows by Jordan Fenster

    Project Fact Sheet

    Mariana Fragomeni Presentation Slides 

    Mariana Fragomeni Webinar YouTube Recording



    Extreme heat is among the leading causes of climate vulnerability in the United States due to potential impacts on human health and well-being. Connecticut residents are less acclimatized to the heat, which could signify a higher risk for heat-related diseases during extreme weather events. The occurrence of heat islands due to urbanization produces relatively warmer air temperatures near the ground, making urban and sub-urban areas warmer compared to rural areas. This presentation will summarize the findings of a year-long project that looks at the variations of surface temperature over a 20-year period and their linkages to land cover and land uses changes in Fairfield and New Haven Counties. The results of this study indicate the occurrence and intensification of urban heat islands in the region and are directly linked to land-use planning, health, and hazard mitigation, among other fields of decision-making. Therefore the outcomes of this project are critical to support local decision-makers in determining the thermal vulnerability of local communities in the Resilient Connecticut project.

    About the Presenter:

    Dr. Fragomeni is an Assistant Professor in the department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture at the University of Connecticut. She holds a PhD in Integrative Conservation and Geography from the University of Georgia and a Master degree in Environmental Planning and Design from the same institution. She obtained her bachelors degree in Architecture and Urbanism from the Universidade Federal da Bahia (Brazil), and prior to becoming an academic she worked in the fields of landscape architecture, energy efficiency, and urban planning. Dr. Fragomeni’s areas of expertise are in urban climatology and urban design, and her research interests are in climate adaptation and design, with focus on heat vulnerability. Her applied and interdisciplinary research seek to understand the impacts of adaptive design and land-use planning on improving or exacerbating heat.

    Transit Oriented Development

    Wednesday, June 23, 12:00 pm

    Presenter: Rosalie Ray

    In this presentation you'll learn:

    • CT’s current obstacles to TOD implementation.
    • Flood vulnerability of the Metro-North rail line.

    Project Fact Sheet

    Rosalie Ray Presentation Slides

    Rosalie Ray Webinar YouTube Recording


    Connecticut’s transit-oriented development (TOD) efforts have been ongoing for a decade, but face implementation challenges, resulting in either projects that are not sufficiently transit-supportive or in projects that are never built. Additionally, much of the transit and TOD are in areas vulnerable to sea-level rise. This research analyzes the current obstacles to TOD implementation in Connecticut while also evaluating the vulnerability of the Metro-North mainline and its associated TOD to sea-level rise.   Our research team took a mixed-method approach, reviewing the towns’ existing TOD plans, interviewing 13 stakeholders, and analyzing parcel and rail line vulnerability with CIRCA’s mapping of the 1% annual exceedance probability storm surge flood with the addition of 20” of sea-level rise by 2050. We find a lack of standardized data or concrete performance metrics hampers state TOD efforts and the state’s heavy involvement in both bus and rail funding offers opportunities to link transit funding to land use policies and improve the performance of the overall transit network.  However, the DOT lacks staff trained in land use planning and has to date seen the bus network as separate from TOD efforts. We also find most town TOD plans were completed before tools existed to quantify sea-level rise, that planners recognize sea level rise as a problem but have not reached a conclusion on how to treat parcels that are projected to be a flood risk in 30 years, and that roughly 23 miles of Metro-North track and 18% of parcels within ½ mile of the stations are within the 1% exceedance zone. The report recommends metrics for evaluating TOD projects, calls for more standardized data availability, and more guidance at the state level on transit-land use integration, while supporting the ongoing efforts to assess the resiliency of the state transportation system.

    Legal & Policy Tools for Climate Resilience

    Friday, June 25, 12:00 - 12:20 pm

    Presenter: Louanne Cooley

    A special note about the webinar: This 20 minute presentation will be followed by a 40 minute panel that includes investigators from other research projects highlighted earlier in the June series (more information about the panel can be found on the next tab down).  So unlike previous 30 mins webinars in this series, this event will run for one hour.

    In this presentation you'll learn:

    • Highlights from a select group of states describing their legislative and executive response to address climate challenges.
    • Comparative legal and legislative frameworks that could be adopted in Connecticut to support state and local resilience efforts.

    UConn Today Feature Article:

    Expanding Climate Resilience with Forward-Thinking Policy Initiatives

    Project Fact Sheet

    Louanne Cooley Presentation Slides

    Louanne Cooley Webinar YouTube Recording


    To assess Connecticut’s response to climate change at a state policy level, we evaluated and compared states’ responses in New England and other coastal states that have enacted novel legislation or Executive Orders addressing climate change impacts. tates have taken an interagency approach to assess state needs, leveraging expertise and knowledge on a wide range of issues, but taking a dichotomous approach to mitigation and adaptation actions. Specifically, we investigated the enabling of various municipal level bodies that would have authority to finance, design, construct, operate and maintain infrastructure. Understanding vulnerability and need is a crucial first step to effective climate planning. Once need is evaluated, some states created municipal grant systems to provide seed money or matching funds for projects to allow municipalities access to larger funding sources. States have enabled an array of legal authorities to give municipalities the flexibility to create legal structures that best fit their needs. Connecticut has taken steps in this direction and should increase support to municipalities for climate-resilient planning.

    Immediately Following – Policy Panel Discussion with Research Teams

    Friday, June 25, 12:20 - 1:00 pm

    Moderators: Joe MacDougald and Jim O'Donnell

    This final webinar included an additional 40 minute panel of featured speakers from this June series.  The following researchers discussed policy implications of their research in a moderated Q&A format:   Webinar YouTube Recording (the panel starts at the 21 minute mark)  

    Webinar Panel YouTube Recording (Coming Soon)



    Charles Towe Real Estate Values, Tax Revenues, and Climate Change-Induced Retreat from Flood Zones
    Mariana Fragomeni Change in Heat Vulnerability and Land-use Influence
    Rosalie Ray, Carol Atkinson-Palombo, Norman Garrick Transit Oriented Development
    Louanne Cooley Legal & Policy Tools for Climate Resilience

    Tune in after air date on CIRCA's YouTube channel if you missed any of the presentations! Click subscribe and the little bell icon to get notifications whenever a new video goes up!

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    Funding for this webinar series is provided by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Community Block Grant National Disaster Recovery Program, as administered by the State of Connecticut, Department of Housing.