Adapting to Climate Change
Adapting to climate change means preparing the state to deal with the consequences and changes that are occurring – changes in temperature, rainfall, and sea level rise. The resources below provide information on ways we are adapting to climate change.
Avoiding flood risk and damage
Sea levels have risen in Delaware by more than 12 inches over the last century – twice the global average. This doesn't mean that beachgoers have to walk one less foot to get from the sand to the water – it means high tides and storm surges reach further inland, resulting in damaging flooding. A combination of expanding oceans, subsiding land, and increased rainfall are putting our buildings, roads, bridges and other structures (collectively known as "infrastructure") at risk of flood damage in both coastal and inland areas. Building with future flood areas in mind will help keep Delawareans safe and prevent costly future repairs and relief.
The State has resources for understanding and acting to prevent flood risk and damage:
- Avoiding and Minimizing Risk of Flood Damage to State Assets: A Guide for Delaware State Agencies is a document designed to help Delaware state agencies identify areas of high flood risk now and in the future, as required by Governor Markell's Executive Order 41.
- The Flood Risk Adaptation Map is a mapping tool that shows what flood levels may look like during extreme weather events when sea level rise is taken into account, and which areas would be heavily jeopardized. Please visit the Flood Risk and Avoidance webpage for more information about the map, how to use it, and its limitations before accessing the map. Access information is also included on the page.
For more information, see the Flood Risk and Avoidance webpage.
Using nature-based solutions in green infrastructure
Plants and soils naturally filter pollutants out of the environment, and absorb water to reduce flooding and runoff after storms. Nature-based solutions--or green infrastructure--like rain gardens (pictured left in Lewes, Delaware) outside of buildings or trees planted in urban areas can help moderate temperatures, reduce flooding, and filter pollutants out of the air. Vegetated areas along waterways trap nutrients and pollutants that come off the land, helping to keep waterways clean.
The Green Infrastructure Primer was designed to walk readers through the basics and benefits of green infrastructure. It also provides contacts and resources for every step of implementing green infrastructure projects.
Delaware Green Infrastructure webpage
Green Infrastructure Primer: A Delaware Guide to Using Natural Systems in Urban, Rural, and Coastal Settings (full PDF)