Research on resiliency strategies

The Estuary Program, in partnership with WRI, funds research projects to help communities better understand climate risks and adaptation strategies that maximize ecological benefits.

The Community Risk and Resiliency Act

The Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA) requires state agencies and applicants to consider future physical climate risks, including storm surge, sea-level rise, and flooding, and extreme weather events in certain permitting, funding, and regulatory actions.  The state officially adopted sea-level rise projections in February of 2017. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of State (DOS) and other agencies are developing guidance to help New York State (NYS) agencies, permit applicants and stakeholders consider the risk of sea-level rise, storm surge, erosion, and flooding in projects and actions. This guidance will also be useful to local governments.  The Hudson River Estuary Program partnered with DOS to develop the Statewide Shoreline Monitoring Framework guidance on the use of natural resilience measures to mitigate risks associated with sea-level rise, storm surge, erosion, and flooding. DOS has also released Model Local Laws to Increase Resilience that includes many land use and zoning tools to tackle storm surge, sea-level rise and flooding in a municipal code book format. The use of natural resilience measures to reduce these risks is imperative to protecting our state’s communities and environment. New York has made reducing these risks a priority for the state.

Assessing the Effects of Storm Surge Barriers on the Hudson River Estuary

The Estuary Program has partnered with Dr. Orton, the Consensus Building Institute and NOAA Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve to build off the Harbor and Tributaries Focus Area Feasibility Study (HATS) evaluating surge barriers and other options to manage coastal storm risks, led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, states of New York and New Jersey, and New York City. The objectives of this collaboration are:

  • Improved understanding of the benefits and impacts of storm surge barriers on the Hudson River and the surrounding estuarine system,
  • Enhanced engagement and collaboration among the research community to expand studies of storm surge barriers,
  • More scientific input to the Harbor and Tributaries Focus Area Feasibility Study, allowing the Army Corps and its partners to consider a range of costs and benefits of surge barriers, and
  • Increased coordination and understanding between the scientific community and key end users in the New York metropolitan area, providing a foundation for future collaborative efforts.

You can find all project documents on Dr. Orton's website, including the final report: Catalyzing a deeper understanding of the effects of storm surge barriers on the Hudson River estuary (PDF) and first publication: Chen, Z., P. M. Orton, and T. Wahl (2020), Storm Surge Barrier Protection in an Era of Accelerating Sea Level Rise: Quantifying Closure Frequency, Duration and Trapped River Flooding, Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 8(9), 725,

Understanding Flood Risk Perception, Response, and Policy Views in Troy and Kingston

With the Hudson River Estuary Program’s collaboration and support, a team of Cornell researchers are studying how people living in flood-affected neighborhoods in Troy and Kingston perceive and respond to flood risk. Based in the Department of Global Development, John Zinda, David Kay, Lindy Williams, Robin Blakely-Armitage, and Sarah Alexander are integrating data from focus group discussions with an original survey of Troy and Kingston residents. They are developing analyses to understand how flood risk perception, preparedness actions, and policy preferences relate to factors like flood exposure, race, and income. Findings will inform collaborative efforts by state and local governments to design and target flood management interventions.

Flood Risk in Context: Insurance and Risk Response in Flood-Prone Communities

In collaboration with the Hudson River Estuary Program and several other state and local partners, Cornell researchers are building on work in Troy and Kingston with an engaged project examining flood insurance provision under the National Flood Insurance Program in the Hudson and Mohawk watersheds. Working in 4 upstate New York communities, they are examining patterns of flood insurance take-up among homeowners and renters and investigating how insurers, lenders, and local governments plan and communicate about flood insurance. Read their Research & Policy Brief: Responding to Risk from Floods and COVID-19: Beyond Partisanship, Through Experience (PDF). Cornell team members include John Zinda, David Kay, and Robin Blakely-Armitage in Global Development and Sharon Tennyson in Policy Analysis and Management.

Sustainable Shorelines

Natural and nature-based solutions can be applied to shorelines to reduce erosion and flooding while providing co-benefits like habitat creation and carbon storage. The Hudson River Sustainable Shorelines project provides case studies to document the use and benefits of ecologically-enhanced shorelines. The Statewide Shoreline Monitoring Framework provides shoreline managers and decision makers with guidance on the benefits of natural and nature-based shorelines and how these compare with more traditional armored shorelines. Read the full report: Measuring Success: Monitoring Natural and Nature-based Shoreline Features in New York State (PDF). The Estuary Program, with the help of our partners, has also released a Coastal Green Infrastructure Research Plan for New York City.

Coastal Green Infrastructure Research Plan for New York City

The Hudson River Estuary Program, NEIWPCC and the New York City Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency and Department of City Planning have released a research plan on the use of coastal green infrastructure (or "nature-based features") to protect the coastal areas of New York City from erosion and flooding. The plan was developed by ARCADIS and the Steven's Institute of Technology. To learn more, download the full report: Coastal Green Infrastructure Research Plan for NYC (PDF 1.16 MB). You can also watch a recorded webinar on the research plan.

Evaluation of Alternatives for an Offshore Breakwater system for Great Kills Harbor

The DEC Hudson River Estuary Program and the New York City Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency and Department of City Planning have released a study evaluating the use of offshore breakwaters to mitigate wave action and erosion at Great Kills Harbor, on the eastern shore of Staten Island. To learn more, visit our page on Coastal Green Infrastructure. You can also download the final summary report: Great Kills Harbor Breakwater Study Summary Report (PDF 3.29MB), and appendices: Appendix A Summary and Appendices, Appendix B Summary and Appendices, Appendix C and D included in the Final Report, and Appendix E Handout and Presentation.