Impact of Climate Change & Public Policy Process: Lake Sunapee
Faculty members: Michael Simpson and James Gruber
This study focuses on the generation of reliable and specific estimates of impacts from climate change, in support of programs to adapt civil infrastructure in the 50 square mile Lake Sunapee watershed region of New Hampshire. This research and community outreach and facilitation work is supported by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The Sunapee area, like many regions in New Hampshire, has experienced more frequent and more intense storm activity in the last 10 or more years. Combined with more development on the land, these storms have caused significant public infrastructure damage including road, bridge and culvert washouts.
For the Sunapee study, data on approximately 200 culverts (those passing under public roads) and other watercourse infrastructure is being gathered. Rainfall data including precipitation projections based on climate change models, other hydrological data, development patterns, including increases in impervious surface and other land-use data is being used in the analysis.
Additional analysis will estimate how much Low Impact Development (LID) techniques could reduce the impact of excessive runoff. And finally, an economic analysis will estimate how much municipalities could save (via damage/cost avoidance) by upgrading undersized infrastructure. The towns and residents could benefit significantly from this analysis. Stormwater runoff has been recognized in all areas of the country as having a major impact on water quality.
This information is be disseminated to local public leaders though facilitating a Planning and Community Participatory Problem Solving process that includes task forces, forums, and community meetings.
Student Theory and Skills Applied:
- Land Use Build-out Analysis
- Modeling Run-off and Peak Flows
- Field Data Collection Monitoring Peak Flow Capacity
- Environmental Public Policy Development
- Planning and Facilitating Community Participatory Problem Solving Forums
- Assessing Cost/Benefit Analysis