Adam Parris

Mapping resilience not risk: Turning the tide in New York City and Jamaica Bay


Resilience in urban coastal areas is affected by actions at multiple levels from individuals to community groups to city, state and federal governments. At any level, actions can be a response to immediate hazards (e.g. flooding of coastal homes) or long-term drivers of change (e.g. sea level rise). Jamaica Bay, a highly urbanized estuary within New York City, exemplifies the Nation’s coastal zone challenges. Prior to Hurricane Sandy, city, state, and federal governments had made the estuary a major focal point for habitat restoration, improvements to public access and outdoor recreation, and sustainable development. Sandy caused the highest flood level in the recorded history of New York City, eventually claiming 44 lives and costing over $19 billion. Electrical system failure caused four of NYCs wastewater pollution control plants to shutdown, discharging untreated sewage into Jamaica Bay.

The Sea Level Rise Tool for Sandy Recovery (the Tool), a flood mapping tool developed by several government agencies including FEMA, NYC, and the Executive Branch, integrated science from the National Flood Insurance Program and the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC). While compound flooding hazards (stormwater plus coastal flooding) remain an important uncertainty, the Tool and subsequent NPCC mapping efforts provide sufficient evidence for science-based discourse around coastal flood risks in Jamaica Bay. But toward what outcome?

Coastal flood risk reduction measures and other management actions are managed within existing regulatory frameworks. Disaster relief funds appropriated by Congress in the immediate aftermath of Sandy have provided critical resources to the Jamaica Bay region. However, the challenge now is to transition from the short-term response to long-term resilience planning, a challenge which requires new institutional capacity. This transition to resilience planning and implementation is not only critical in New York City, but in other coastal cities around the nation. The Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay is a rare partnership between the City of New York, the National Park Service and a consortium of nine research institutions, focused on collaborative problem solving. Central to the Institute’s to success will be the question – can we start mapping resilience and not risk?


Adam Parris is an interdisciplinary scientist who works on social and environmental change in US coastal zones. Adam currently serves as the Executive Director of the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay (SRIJB). Prior to that, he served as the lead author on the report “Global Mean Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the US National Climate Assessment.”​ He also provided technical guidance and leadership on the Sea Level Rise Tool for Sandy Recovery, for which he and others received a Presidential Green.Gov award as Climate Champion. Mr. Parris also served as program manager for NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) program, internationally recognized for its design in helping decision makers manage weather and climate risks. Adam is a lead editor and an author on the upcoming book “Climate in Context” by Wiley & Sons. Adam holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Geology and English Literature from Bucknell University and a Master of Science in Geology from the University of Vermont.


Edgar Westerhof

Grey or green-let’s get it off the screen! Adaptation strategies as drivers for sustainable developments


The presentation “Grey or Green – Let’s Get It Off The Screen” discusses grey and green coastal and watershed strategies as part of integrated principles of flood protection. The global priority in waterfront adjustments has become to protect and enhance local communities and leverage the ecological potential, but what are the obstacles we are facing? The presentation outlines challenges and processes that helped drive collaboration and innovation, associated with small and large scale adaptation strategies in the Netherlands as well as the New York City Region.


Edgar Westerhof is the National Director for Flood Risk and Resiliency for North America. Edgar is a water consultant with 16 years of experience in integrated (urban) water management. He has a deep understanding of urban and industrial flood proofing concepts, urban planning, green infrastructure, sustainable waterfront development and international water management concepts.

Edgar was leading the ARCADIS participation in the international HUD Rebuild by Design competition, including the winning BIG U – Waterfront Resiliency Plan of Manhattan. Edgar functions as the climate change adaptation specialist regarding integrated and multi-layered coastal waterfront and urban water management strategies. He bridges the understanding and business opportunities on water management between the Netherlands and the US and plays a key role in the identification and implementation of our local and international flood proofing expertise. As the US Flood Risk & Resiliency Lead, Edgar is involved in strategic initiatives regarding climate change adaptation and water resiliency concepts.

Edgar functions as a press spokesperson and hosted numerous international delegations visiting NY and is a frequent speaker at conferences and professional events regarding water resiliency and sustainability.

Karen Chytalo

Challenges of Marine Habitat Protection Laws for Green Marine Infrastructure


Many of our marine habitat protection laws (e.g., Tidal Wetlands Act) were written in the 70’s.  While the law is still very valid today as it was in the 70’s, to protect tidal wetlands and to end fill and build in the wetlands, it is being stretched today to allow for some filling of tidal wetlands for restoration purposes and to encourage the use of living shorelines in place of traditional, hardened approaches because they offer habitat and ecological value.  The new Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA) is requiring the development of guidance on the implementation and use of natural resiliency measures to reduce risks from sea level rise, storm surge, and flooding.  This is forcing the evolution of our marine habitat protection regulatory program and ultimately its laws.  But, we don’t have all the tools in the toolbox to implement and understand these projects:  where to place these structures, how best to build them and to understand ecosystem responses to these types of infrastructure.  These are unchartered waters for us, the public and the laws.


Presently, the Assistant Bureau Chief of Marine Resources, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in the East Setauket Office.  Heads up the Administrative and Special Project Office which include the ocean program, Marine Permit Office, GIS services.  Previously, the Section Head of Marine Habitat Protection overseeing the following programs:  Tidal Wetlands, Estuary Management, Marine monitoring and assessment, and Marine Environmental Protection.  Chaired the NYS Seagrass Task Force and jointly chaired the habitat component of the NYS Sea Level Rise Task Force.  Have worked for the Department for 36 years.  Have an M.S from SUNY Stony Brook in Marine Environmental Sciences.


Anthony Dvarskas

Ecosystem services and green and grey infrastructure: the role of economic valuation


Following Hurricane Sandy, New York City and Long Island coastal communities have been faced with the challenge of developing and proposing projects for enhancing their resiliency to future storm events. The costs of infrastructure projects in dollar terms are relatively straightforward to estimate using standard accounting approaches and select benefits, such as avoided loss of housing and other infrastructure, are typically included. Estimation of the full suite of benefits, necessary for an accurate benefit-cost analysis, becomes more complicated. While noting the lack of value estimates for many ecosystem goods and services, the US Army Corps of Engineers has recently described the potential for natural and nature-based features to improve community resilience, not only through shoreline protection functions, but also through the co-benefits of ecosystem goods and services. By ignoring the dollar values of these co-benefits from natural or living shorelines, decisions may be biased against undertaking such projects. The goal of this talk is to provide an overview of the concept of economic valuation and the role of economic valuation in assessing the co-benefits from projects incorporating “green” elements.


Anthony Dvarskas is an environmental economist in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and also teaches courses with the Sustainability Studies Program. His most recent position was with the United Nations in New York, working on the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting and its Experimental Ecosystem Accounting framework. Prior to the United Nations, he worked as an economist in the Office of Response and Restoration at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 2008 through 2012, where he focused on valuing losses to the public (e.g., oil spills, Superfund sites) and benefits from restoration activities. His research interests lie in the interactions of humans with the coastal environment and the challenges associated with balancing economic development, management of pollution, and the health and resilience of the underlying resource base.


John Headland

Quantification of resilience for coastal structures and nourished beaches


This presentation summarizes a methodology for quantifying the resilience of coastal structures and nourished beaches.  The approach is based on a method used in earthquake engineering.  When adapted for coastal engineering, storm intensity and recovery time are integrated which gives a single numerical resilience score.  Examples will be presented.


Headland is a coastal and port engineer and has worked in these fields for 35 years.  He has worked for the USACE, the US Navy and the firm of Moffatt and Nichol.  He started his own company in 2014.  Headland has served on the USACE coastal engineering board, the NAS Marine Board, the ASCE Copri board, and was a Pianc international VP. He has worked throughout the USA and numerous countries.


Lynn Bocamazo

USACE Coastal Storm Risk Management and Restoration in the Greater NY Region: Gray through Green


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District and our Federal, State and local partners are using “gray” through “green” solutions to coastal storm hazards.

This presentation will provide information on recent coastal storm risk management and restoration successes and challenges, and also describe ongoing coastal risk management and restoration planning efforts, including the Hudson Raritan Estuary Feasibility Study and an example of the coordination with the New York District’s Coastal Storm Risk Management Program.

The presentation will also describe the USACE efforts including the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study,   coastal storm risk management projects at Coney Island and Rockaway, NY , and the study alternatives for Staten Island, NY.

The multi-agency Systems Approach to Geomorphic Engineering (SAGE) Collaborative Community of Practice, which has a goal of advancing landscape-scale solutions for coastal resiliency, will be in described. The goals, organization and initial efforts and pilots studies of SAGE will be presented.

Regarding coastal ecosystem restoration, since 2007, more than 157 acres of new marsh islands have been created through the beneficial use of dredged material within Jamaica Bay; approximately 40 acres of salt marsh and coastal grasslands have been restored at Gerritsen Creek; critical shoreline infrastructure including the Belt Parkway were protected at Plumb Beach (completed just prior to Hurricane Sandy); and marsh and adjacent uplands have been at restored at Soundview Park, Bronx, NY . The Jamaica Bay marsh island restoration efforts are providing valuable data on the cause of the problems and helping identify the most effective future restoration options. The restoration momentum continues as plans are developing for comprehensive solutions that manage coastal storm risk and restore ecosystems; improving the Region’s environmental sustainability and shoreline resiliency.


Ms. Bocamazo is the Chief of the Hurricane Sandy Relief Branch, in Engineering Division for the U.S. Army Engineer District, New York.  She is responsible for engineering input for all Feasibility Studies, Project Design and Engineering Support During Construction for projects within the New York District funded under PL 113-2, the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act (the Hurricane Sandy Bill).

Her principal coastal engineering work has been on storm damage reduction and coastal inlet navigation projects on Long Island, New York and northern New Jersey.  From 1996 through 2013, she served as the Senior Coastal Engineer, providing coastal engineering expertise to the Chief of Engineering Division at the New York District.

Ms. Bocamazo is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Coastal Engineering Practice Committee and is the former co-leader of the Corp’s Coastal Working Group.  She is a licensed professional engineer in New York State and an Academy of Coastal, Ocean, Port and Navigation Engineers diplomate in Coastal Engineering.


Jonathan Goldstick

Valuing Nature’s Role in Urban Coastal Resilience: A Howard Beach, NY Case Study


In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the New York City Special Initiative for Rebuilding requested that The Nature Conservancy undertake a project evaluating the role of nature and nature-based infrastructure in protecting communities from some of the impacts of climate change, which was the inception of the Urban Coastal Resilience Report.  The community of Howard Beach, Queens, was selected as a case study for the project because this neighborhood, hit hard during Sandy, is low-lying and densely populated.  Although Howard Beach was used in the analysis, the study methodology is applicable to coastal communities across the City and around the globe.  The report examines nature-based features (such as mussel beds and restored marsh) that can be used in a dense, urban setting in combination with “gray” defenses (like sea walls and flood gates) to provide efficient and cost-effective protection from sea level rise, storm surge and coastal flooding, and it presents rigorous methods to value the contributions of nature.



Jonathan leads the New York City office of CH2M where he is responsible for the firm’s waterfront and resilience practice.  His post-Superstorm Sandy projects have included the design of the 5-mile long replacement Rockaway Boardwalk in Queens, a study for The Nature Conservancy comparing the costs and benefits of natural and hybrid flood risk reduction measures in the flood-prone community of Howard Beach on Jamaica Bay, a study of storm surge barriers on the Newtown Creek and Gowanus Canal, and various FEMA-funded post-Sandy projects for the Port Authority of NY& NJ. Jonathan is a registered Professional Engineer in three states.


Philip Orton

Contrasting surge barrier and nature-based adaptation impacts on Jamaica Bay flood hazards


The efficacy of nature-based adaptation measures in ameliorating flooding is evaluated here in the context of a complete flood risk assessment for Jamaica Bay, New York City.  A two-dimensional hydrodynamic model is used to simulate hundreds of historical and synthetic storms, with land elevation and land cover friction changes to represent flood adaptation measures.  Prior results have shown that a massive expansion of the present-day wetland restoration efforts in the center of the bay would do little to reduce flood levels, because flood heights are controlled by Rockaway Inlet and the deep shipping channels that run around the bay’s perimeter.  I will present innovative nature-based adaptation strategies that focus on choking storm surges moving along these pathways, reducing flood levels within the bay, yet also aiming to maintain tidal flushing.  They can provide clean shelf sediments for the bay that can also help maintain shallows and wetland systems naturally, bringing their many other ecosystem benefits.  The positive and negative attributes of these nature-based strategies will also be compared to those of a storm surge barrier that has been proposed for the bay.


Dr. Philip Orton is a research assistant professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. He holds a PhD in physical oceanography from Columbia University and specializes in coastal physical oceanography and storm surges. He has published twenty-five peer-reviewed articles, is a member of the NYC Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), and was recently a member of the winning Living Breakwaters team for HUD’s Rebuild By Design competition.


Jennifer Mattei

The Stratford point model: green and gray solutions used to restore ecosystem function


We have observed that some of the effects of climate change (e.g. rising sea levels and increases in the number and intensity of storms) is causing severe coastal erosion at Stratford Pt. and elsewhere along the shores of Long Island Sound.  These specific climate changes have also made it exceedingly difficult to restore coastal habitats successfully and to conserve the habitats we still have (Smith 2009).  Our current restoration and management plans to increase structure to both the intertidal zone (reef and salt marsh installation, 2014 and continuing) and the upland (install woody shrubs and trees, grasses and forbs) will allow for more successful coastal habitat restoration.  We are monitoring to see if the increased structure of these newly restored habitats will help to block wave energy and wind energy, respectively.  The sequence of installation and the types of habitats installed may make a difference.


Jennifer H. Mattei, Ph.D. is a Professor of Biology at Sacred Heart University.   She has a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Maryland, a Masters of Forest Science from Yale University, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and a Ph.D. in Ecology & Evolution from SUNY, Stony Brook. In general, her research interests include population ecology and coastal restoration supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, Connecticut Sea Grant, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and the Disney Conservation Fund.   Dr. Mattei’s is a member of the IUCN Species Specialist Group working to establish the conservation of the four extant species of horseshoe crabs through estuarine restoration and conservation.


Jennifer Cherrier

Hybrid Green Infrastructure:  A Natural Solution for Coastal Water Resource Sustainability


Green infrastructure is gaining wide attention as a promising ‘best management practice’ for mitigating stormwater pollution and flooding. However, in their current design many of these systems are passive making their effectiveness for intercepting water and removing pollutants inconsistent.   I will be providing a brief overview of an ‘active’ hybrid green infrastructure system my research group developed to address this and septic loading issues.  I’ll also discuss some collective efforts that my colleagues and I are engaged in to implement and assess the efficacy of this approach.


J Cherrier is a Professor in the Earth & Environmental Sciences Department at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and also the President and Founder of Waterway Ecologics. Her 26yrs of research expertise are in aquatic biogeochemistry with a more recent focus on water resource sustainability and solution-based approaches for offsetting the human impacts on aquatic systems.  Jennifer is co-inventor of a novel ecosystem-based ‘blue’ technology (eco-WEIRTM, patent pending) that augments green infrastructure to maximize stormwater runoff related pollutant removal and also allows for water storage and reuse.  She is a Stanford Woods Leopold Leadership Fellow for Sustainability as well as a National Academy of Sciences Frontiers of Science Kalvi Fellow.



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