Newsletter: Building Coastal Resilience



News and resources on climate resilience

From the Desk of Emilie

Sea level rise and floods pose critical threats to the well-being and prosperity of coastal communities. Cities like San Francisco are taking concrete steps to understand impacts on their population, looking not just at infrastructure but also at community welfare. The San Francisco Flood Vulnerability visualization tool we developed for the San Francisco Department of Public Health will support community outreach and communication to help raise awareness on the health impacts from floods. As communities innovate to develop lasting solutions and embrace nature-based solutions, sharing lessons learned through efforts like the Rockefeller 100 Cities is ever more critical to grow our collective knowledge. We’re proud to work with our partners on developing solutions that help to pave the way for more informed planning and more effective response.

Emilie Mazzacurati, Founder and CEO

San Francisco Flood Vulnerability: A Health Focused Assessment


In San Francisco, local flood inundation, coupled with extreme storms, is projected to have a direct impact on health outcomes in the city. San Francisco’s Department of Public Health (SFDPH) recently released a comprehensive assessment of the health impacts of flood vulnerability throughout the city. According to their assessment, the most likely health impacts related to flooding include physical injuries, waterborne illnesses, respiratory illnesses, vector-borne disease, and food-borne illnesses. Health impacts related to flooding can be prevented through a combination of informed planning and strategic adaptation. Four Twenty Seven partnered with SFDPH to create an interactive story map that helps users make the connection between health impacts and climate change by illustrating why some communities are more vulnerable than others to these impacts. The maps highlight the relative risk of each San Francisco neighborhood from extreme storms and flooding based on its geographic exposure, living conditions of residents, health factors, and the social vulnerability of the neighborhood.
Explore SF Flood Vulnerability Tool

Houston Floods: When Extremes Become the Norm

The heavy rains that hit Houston, Texas last week drove historic flooding, subsequent property loss, and population displacement. Eric Holthaus of Slate writes: “Since the 1950s, Houston has seen a 167 percent increase in the heaviest downpours.” The recent dramatic floods in Houston, Charleston, and so many other cities illustrate the shift towards a new normal, with more frequent and more intense downpours stretching communities’ ability to handle increased flood risk. As extreme weather events become more prevalent, it is more important than ever for local officials to access and accurately interpret information on how climate change will impact their communities.  Learn more about our tools and services which are designed to help local governments adapt to a changing climate.

Rising Seas, Rising Costs


Nearly three million people in the United States live less than three feet above today’s average high tide. In California alone, $100 billion in property is projected to be at risk, not even including the costs of property loss to insurers and reinsurers.

Sea level rise also presents major social challenges: projections from a report in Nature Climate Change predict that sea level rise could displace between 4.2 million to 13.1 million people in the United States, dependent upon our ability to keep temperature rise between 2-4 degrees Celsius.

This video from Climate Central’s Surging Seas Project shows that human fingerprints are on thousands of recent coastal floods. Even minor coastal flooding, sometimes called nuisance flooding, affects communities and their infrastructure.

Managing Flood Risk and Water Issues

100 Resilient Cities convened the chief resilience officers from nine cities in Rotterdam, Netherlands to exchange best practices on water management and multi-benefits solutions for local governments.

Discover the tools and solutions these experts suggest for cities grappling with rising seas. Some of our favorites include:

  • The Climate Adaptation App provides urban designers, engineers, and others insight into feasible measures for a project with a specific climate adaptation goal.
  • The Urban Water Blueprint Tool analyzes the state of water in more than 2,000 watersheds and 530 cities worldwide to provide science based recommendations for natural solutions that can be integrated alongside traditional infrastructure to improve water quality.

Adaptation Lessons From Nature

Natural habitats may provide the best physical barriers to break up the intensity of surging seas and storms. By re-establishing natural buffer zones in the form of mangroves, healthy forests, and rangelands of native plants, we create nature-based adaptation solutions that also provide valuable ecosystem services such as water filtration, erosion prevention, and habitat for wild animals.


UC Davis and The Nature Conservancy recently hosted a Natural Climate Solutions Symposium designed to communicate the value that native habitats and lands can play in combating climate change. Often the best solutions to climate change serve a dual purpose, and the ecosystem services provided by natural habitats come with many co-benefits for both the climate and local ecosystems. Read more in this seminal white paper from The Nature Conservancy: Building the Case for Green Infrastructure.

What We Are Reading: Baylands Habitat Goals

The Baylands and Climate Change: What We Can Do is an update to the 1999 Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals, which for the first time set comprehensive restoration goals for the San Francisco Bay Estuary. The new report, “produced by a collaborative of 21 management agencies working with a multi-disciplinary team of over 100 scientists… synthesizes the latest science – particularly advances in the understanding of climate change and sediment supply – and incorporates projected changes through 2100 to generate new recommendations for achieving healthy baylands ecosystems.”

Upcoming Events

Join our team in the field at these upcoming events:

Urban Sea Level Rise







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