Climate Change

Sea Level Rise and Climate Change Adaptation

Climate change will have significant effects on the natural and built environment, some of them adverse. Impacts to the landscape, water resources, infrastructure, public health and safety, and natural communities are likely.  Other climate change effects may be beneficial, such as extended seasons for certain agricultural crops, tourism or vacations.  Adaptive planning can help reduce the negative impacts and facilitate community improvement. It’s important to initiate actions early in order to avoid severe impacts and stranded costs for development and infrastructure that may not be useable in the future.  Land use and capital development programs should be coordinated with community adaptation to reduce impacts, maximize efficiency, and spread out adaptation costs over the course of time. The Department of State provides both technical assistance and grant funding to waterfront communities to facilitate climate change adaptation.  Funding is available on a cost-shared basis for planning and implementation projects through the New York State Environmental Protection Fund grant program under the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) category administered by DOS.  Since the effects of climate change will be shared across regional systems, it may be advantageous for neighboring communities to prepare regional adaptation plans.

Sea level rise is one of the most certain outcomes of climate change.  Accelerated sea level rise is already documented in trends from water level gages. Many urban areas such as New York City are preparing adaptation plans to address sea level rise.  The impacts from coastal storms will challenge larger geographic areas with sea level rise and potentially increased storm intensity. The coastal hazard portion of a LWRP is well suited to help communities address these challenges. In addition, DOS has prepared guidance on Coastal Resilience Plans to help assess risks from coastal hazards, including sea level rise, and incorporate that information into management plans. 

Plans should be informed by scientific projections of climate impacts, the community vision, best available options and carrying capacity of the landscape.  The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority prepared a report examining climate impacts and potential adaptation strategies for eight sectors in New York State: water resources, coastal zones, ecosystems, agriculture, energy, transportation, telecommunications, and public health.

DOS has initiated the following pilot projects to address climate change:

City of Albany Climate Action Plan – An Environmental Protection Fund grant was awarded to help characterize City residents’ concerns about climate change, and to facilitate adaptation planning along with the update of the Albany Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP).

South Shore Estuary Reserve – A regional effort on climate change adaptation for the Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve. This effort will result in policies and recommendations specific to increasing the region’s resilience to climate change.

Coastal Resilience Plans – The Department can provide guidance on risk assessment and preparing management plans.  Coastal Resilience Plans can be a component of a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.DOS encourages neighboring communities with shared coastlines to work together in preparing regional management plans.

Resources addressing climate change

DOS Summary of Climate Change Impacts by Sector (pdf)

NOAA Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer

List of additional resources for local governments

If interested in further information or technical assistance please contact Barry Pendergrass at or (518) 486-3277.