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Coastal Flooding Experts from Across North America to Converge for Virtual Workshop Led by ODU

A hand-picked group of nearly 85 international, national and local experts in coastal inundation and recurrent flooding will converge later this week for a National Sciences Foundation (NSF)-sponsored workshop led by Old Dominion University and aimed at identifying gaps in knowledge that are essential in responding to current and future flooding.

The NSF will use insights garnered from the workshop to help prioritize investments into research aimed at filling these gaps.

Experts from Brown University, the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Texas A&M University at Galveston and other institutions with clusters of expertise will virtually attend the April 15-16 NSF Coastlines and People workshop.

The project team includes Carol Considine, Batten College of Engineering and Technology; Joshua Behr, Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation (VMASC); and Rodger Harvey, College of Sciences.

"Our first goal is to better understand the current impacts of recurrent flooding and, looking forward to 2060, the return on investments in potential solutions," said Behr, ODU associate vice president for strategic initiatives, one of the planners of the event.

"Our second goal is to broaden participation across sectors, with the intentionality of increasing participation among groups traditionally unrepresented in these discussions."

Considine, assistant dean and associate professor with ODU's Batten College and lead of the event, said presentations and workshops will focus on five topic areas - managing coastal flooding, safeguarding vulnerable populations, protecting and sustaining economic vitality, promoting and enhancing public health, and increasing adaptive capacity.

Considine added that Norfolk is the perfect site to host such a gathering of experts.

"The Hampton Roads region is experiencing relative sea level rise twice the global average, exacerbating coastal storm surge and recurrent flooding," she said. "The region is a natural laboratory for development of a broader multi-sectoral network to inform key research topics at the intersection of natural systems and people."

The objectives of the workshop are to generate research topics within the five thematic areas, figuring out points of entry to collaborate across disciplines on these topics, and broaden participation of impacted stakeholders to ensure diverse perspectives. Harvey will lead the development of a white paper that identifies high-priority research topics intended to shape future NSF funding priorities.

The NSF selected Old Dominion to host this workshop for a variety of reasons, one of which is the growing recognition of the University's Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience as a model to advance action-oriented, collaborative research addressing coastal flooding.

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