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Major Rising Seas Conference Invites Atkinson as Speaker

Head and shoulders photo of Larry AtkinsonLarry Atkinson

Larry Atkinson, the Old Dominion University Slover Professor of Oceanography who has led the university's Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative (CCSLRI) since its inception in 2011, will be among the speakers this week at the Rising Seas Summit 2013 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The conference, presented by the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO), promises to offer an in-depth look at scientific, engineering, legal, economic and policy issues raised by climate change. The subtitle of the event is "Understanding Sea Level Rise in the Face of Extreme Events and an Uncertain Economy."

"Through the initiative at Old Dominion, we have tapped faculty and student expertise in a wide variety of disciplines - ranging from oceanography and coastal engineering to communications and risk management. This, together with the overall issue of rising waters and increased flooding in Hampton Roads, provides us with important information to share at conferences such as this," Atkinson said.

Joining him as speakers at the conference June 18-20 will be Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; government officials from the Netherlands and Great Britain; retired Rear Adm. David Titley, former director of the U.S. Navy's Task Force Climate Change; John Englander, author of "High Tide on Main Street"; and numerous officials of government at all levels in the United States as well as representatives of law firms, engineering firms, insurance companies and conservation groups.

Other participants will come from international oil companies, architectural firms and various professional societies.

Atkinson said his talk at the conference, "The Latest Science on Accelerating Local Sea Level Rise," will feature the research of Tal Ezer, ODU professor of ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences and an important member of the CCSLRI team. Ezer's latest research has shown a relationship between a recent slowing of the Gulf Stream and rising waters along the East Coast from Cape Hatteras northward.

Atkinson, Ezer and Elizabeth Smith, the coordinator of CCSLRI, contributed an overview, "Sea Level Rise and Flooding Risk in Virginia," earlier this year to the U.S. Department of Commerce's Sea Grant Law & Policy Review.

Closer to home, CCSLRI is sponsoring the third in a series of Hampton Roads Sea Level Rise/Flooding Adaptation Forums on July 10 at ODU's Regional Higher Education Center in Virginia Beach. The series is a collaboration among Virginia Sea Grant, the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and ODU. Funding for the series comes from Sea Grant, which is a nationwide network administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of 32 programs at universities, including ODU, that work with coastal communities.

Speakers at the July 10 forum will include Margaret Davidson, acting director of NOAA's Office of Coastal Resources Management, on the topic of "How Big Should My Water Wings Be? Coastal Risk Awareness and Management," and Karen Akerlof, research assistant professor with George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication, on the topic of "Risky Business: Engaging the Public in Policy Discourse on Sea-Level Rise and Inundation."

Local government officials, military and government agency engineers, business managers, environmentalists and academics with a stake in flooding risks are invited to attend the all-day forum, beginning at 9 a.m. For more information, contact Smith at exsmith@odu.edu.