GAO – FLOOD INSURANCE Comprehensive Reform Could Improve Solvency and Enhance Resilience 2017

GAO – FLOOD INSURANCE Comprehensive Reform Could Improve Solvency and Enhance Resilience 2017

What GAO Found

Based on discussions with stakeholders and GAO’s past work, reducing federal exposure and improving resilience to flooding will require comprehensive reform of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that will need to include potential actions in six key areas (see figure below). Comprehensive reform will be essential to help balance competing programmatic goals, such as keeping flood insurance affordable while keeping the program fiscally solvent. Taking actions in isolation may create challenges for some property owners (for example, by reducing the affordability of NFIP policies) and therefore these consequences also will need to be considered. Some of the potential reform options also could be challenging to start or complete, and could face resistance, because they could create new costs for the federal government, the private sector, or property owners. Nevertheless, GAO’s work suggests that taking actions on multiple fronts represents the best opportunity to help address the spectrum of challenges confronting NFIP.

Insurgency, Terrorism and Organised Crime in a Warming Climate

Insurgency, Terrorism and Organised Crime in a Warming Climate Analysing the Links Between Climate Change and Non-State Armed Groups (2017)

Over the past ten years, both our understanding and awareness of the links between climate change and
security have increased tremendously. Today the UN, the EU, the G7 and an increasing number of states
have classified climate change as a threat to global and/or national security. However, the links between
climate change, conflict and fragility are not simple and linear. The increasing impacts of climate change
do not automatically lead to more fragility and conflict. Rather, climate change acts as a threat multiplier.
It interacts and converges with other existing risks and pressures in a given context and can increase the
likelihood of fragility or violent conflict. States experiencing fragility or conflict are particularly affected,
but also seemingly stable states can be overburdened by the combined pressures of climate change,
population growth, urbanization, environmental degradation and rising socio-economic inequalities.

Taking the state of play on the links between climate change and fragility as a starting point, this report
addresses the question of how the impacts of climate change are a contributing factor in the rise and
growth of NSAGs. Non-state armed groups are not a new phenomenon. Today, however, we can observe
an increasingly complex landscape of violent actors with a range of hybrid organisational structures,
different agendas and different levels of engagement with society that set them apart from ‘traditional’
non-state actors and result in new patterns of violence. They operate on different levels, within or outside
formal armed conflict and include youth and street gangs, criminal groups and organised crime as well
as highly professionalized terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, or Al Shabaab or militia providing
community security.

Four case studies that span the whole spectrum of NSAGs and patterns of violence, conflict and fragility
explore in depth the specific role NSAGs play in the complex dynamics of climate change and fragility and
try to identify how climate change acts as a risks multiplier in regards to NSAGs. These case studies
show that as the climate is changing, so too are the conditions within which NSAGs operate. The complex
risks arising from climate change, fragility and conflict can contribute to the emergence and growth of
NSAGs. This does not imply that there is a direct link between climate change and NSAG-related violence
and conflict. However, large-scale environmental and climatic change contributes to creating an environment
in which NSAGs can thrive and opens spaces that facilitate the pursuit of their strategies.

Actuaries Evaluate the National Flood Insurance Program

THE NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM: CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS. American Academy of Actuaries Flood Insurance Work Group (2017)

The NFIP affects many constituencies, including property owners, local governments, builders, realtors, mortgage lenders, insurers, and taxpayers. The program differs from traditional private insurance in several fundamental ways. Changing it without causing market disruption or triggering unintended consequences may be difficult. The program’s current authorization expires in September 2017 and Congress will need to consider many complex and highly technical issues as it debates reauthorization.

The American Academy of Actuaries Flood Insurance Work Group developed this monograph to assist Congress and other stakeholders in understanding the key issues surrounding the NFIP and its role in flood management and recovery after catastrophic events.

The National Flood Insurance Program: Past, Present…and Future? American Academy of Actuaries Flood Insurance Subcommittee (2011)

Flood insurance in the United States primarily is provided by the federal government via the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), in partnership with private insurers and servicing contractors. In the aftermath of the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes that struck the East and Gulf coasts of the United States, and in consideration of the substantial losses suffered in those storms, there have been calls for reform of the program. But since the NFIP is substantively different from typical insurance, few insurance professionals and public policymakers are sufficiently familiar with the NFIP to recognize the broad consequences of changing it. This monograph is focused on the background and the current structure of the program and the primary issues surrounding the program today.

Capitol Hill Briefing – Weathering the Storm: Placing the NFIP on Actuarial Solid Ground

Flood Insurance Subcommittee presentation regarding the actuarial condition of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and its future. (July 12, 2011)


Flood Map Zones


The flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the 100-year floodplains that is determined in the Flood Insurance Study by approximate methods. Because detailed hydraulic analyses are not performed for such areas, no Base Flood Elevations or depths are shown within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.

From Civil Defense to FEMA – A History of Emergency Response

Civil Defense and Homeland Security: A Short History of National Preparedness Efforts (2006)

This report is the result of a requirement by the Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Preparedness Task Force to examine the history of national preparedness efforts in the United States. The report provides a concise and accessible historical overview of U.S. national preparedness efforts since World War I, identifying and analyzing key policy efforts, drivers of change, and lessons learned. While the report provides much critical information, it is not meant to be a substitute for more comprehensive historical and analytical treatments. It is hoped that the report will be an informative and useful resource for policymakers, those individuals interested in the history of what is today known as homeland security, and homeland security stakeholders responsible for the development and implementation of effective national preparedness policies and programs.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (2010)

Publication 1 (Pub 1) is the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) capstone doctrine. Pub 1 describes FEMA’s ethos, which is to serve the Nation by helping its people and first responders, especially when they are most in need. It identifies FEMA’s core values of compassion, fairness, integrity, and respect. Finally, Pub 1 delineates eight guiding principles that provide overarching direction to FEMA employees for the performance of their duties.

Introduction to Crisis, Disaster, and Risk Management Concepts

The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the reader to current and historical crisis, disaster and risk management concepts, to define the four phases of emergency management, and to highlight issues concerning communications, business continuity planning and international disaster programs.  Also included in this chapter is a discussion of the attributes of a successful emergency management system that will be illustrated in the case studies presented in this book.


The Origin Story for Horizontal Levees

A fundamental premise of the most Louisiana coastal restoration plans, including the Master Plan, is that coastal salt marsh acts as a horizontal levee, reducing hurricane surge for each mile of marsh. The primary source that is usually cited for this proposition is:

Corps of Engineers, US Army Engineer District, New Orleans, Interim Survey Report, Morgan City, Louisiana and Vicinity , serial no. 63, US Army Engineer District, New Orleans, LA (November 1963).

This report is nearly impossible to find because it is embedded in a transmittal document with a different citation. The report begins on document page 14. The key chart is on page 85:

The associated text from page 68:

(5) Marshlands that fringe the coastline in certain locations are inundated for considerable distances inland by hurricane surges that approach the shores, The limit of overland surge penetration is dependent upon the height of the surge and the duration of high stages at the coast The surge height at the coastline depends primarilyn the direction and intensity of winds and the hurricane velocity of translation Numerous bays and marshes are prevalent in the area9 and also influence the surge heights at the coastline The routing of these surges overland by conventional methods was complicated by the undefinable effect of high windspeeds on flow, such that the procedures yielded questionable results when applied to different experienced hurricanes in a given location Attempts to correlate hurricane translation speeds, surge hydro- graphs at the coastline, and surge heights at inland locations also yielded inconsistent and therefore unusable relationships. The study of available observed high water marks at the coastline and inland indicates a fairly consistent simple relation between the maximum surge height and the distance inland from the coast, as shown on plate A-4. This relationship exists independently of the speed of hurricane translation, windspeeds, .or directions. The data indicate that the weighted-mean decrease in surge heights inland is at the rate of 1.0 foot per 2.75 miles. This relationship remains true even in the western portion of Louisiana where relatively high chenieres, or wooded ridges, parallel the coast. Efforts to establish time lags between crest surge heights at the coast and at inland locations were unsuccessful because of inadequate basic data.

(6) For the purpose of surge routing procedures, the coast- line is defined as the locus of points where the maximum surge heights would be observed along fetches normal to the general coast This synthetic coastline has been designated the surge reference line (SRL) and is shown on plate A-1. In order to determine maximum surge heights at inland locations, it was necessary to compute maximum surge heights at the SRL, and then adjust these computed elevations by application of the average slope of maximum surge height inland (1 foot/2.75 miles) to the location of interest. Sufficient reliable hurricane stages were not available for positive verification of the procedure within the area. However, the procedure has given satisfactory results in this area and has verified the observed data in other areas of study.

(7) Maximum surge height contours were developed in the area for probable maximum (PMH), standard project (SPH), and moderate (Mod H) hurricanes, These contours are shown on plates A-5, A-6, and A-7,9, respectively. The contours represent maximum surge heights that would be experienced for the simultaneous occurrence of hurricanes in each of these three categories for storm paths most critical for every location. Similar contours representing simultaneous occurrence of maximum observed surge heights are shown on plate A-8.

Geoengineering Policy Resources

Reflecting upon 10 Years of Geoengineering Research: Introduction to the Crutzen + 10 Special Issue

“Ten years ago, Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen called for research into the possibility of reflecting sunlight away from Earth by injecting sulfur particles into the stratosphere. Across academic disciplines, Crutzen’s intervention caused a surge in interest in and research on proposals for what is often referred to as “geoengineering” – an unbounded set of heterogeneous proposals for intentionally intervening into the climate system to reduce the risks of climate change. To mark the 10 year anniversary of the publication of Paul Crutzen’s seminal essay, this special issue reviews the developments in geoengineering research since Crutzen’s intervention and reflects upon possible future directions that geoengineering research may take.”

A great collect of open access articles on Geoengineering

Implications for US National Security of Anticipated Climate Change

Implications for US National Security of Anticipated Climate Change (2016)

Key Points

Long-term changes in climate will produce more extreme weather events and put greater stress on critical Earth systems like oceans, freshwater, and biodiversity. These in turn will almost certainly have significant effects, both direct and indirect, across social, economic, political, and security realms during the next 20 years. These effects will be all the more pronounced as people continue to concentrate in climate-vulnerable locations, such as coastal areas, water-stressed regions, and ever-growing cities.

Science and the Storms: the USGS Response to the Hurricanes of 2005

Original link

USGS - science for a changing world
 Circular 1306:  Science and the Storms: the USGS Response to the Hurricanes of 2005

Thumbnail of and link to Front Cover PDF (1.15 MB)Download Publication


This report is designed to give a view of the immediate response of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to four major hurricanes of 2005: Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. Some of this response took place days after the hurricanes; other responses included fieldwork and analysis through the spring.

Arctic Report Card: Update for 2016

J. Richter-Menge, J. E. Overland, and J. T. Mathis, Eds., 2016: Arctic Report Card 2016,


  • The average surface air temperature for the year ending September 2016 is by far the highest since 1900, and new monthly record highs were recorded for January, February, October and November 2016.
  • After only modest changes from 2013-2015, minimum sea ice extent at the end of summer 2016 tied with 2007 for the second lowest in the satellite record, which started in 1979.
  • Spring snow cover extent in the North American Arctic was the lowest in the satellite record, which started in 1967.
  • In 37 years of Greenland ice sheet observations, only one year had earlier onset of spring melting than 2016.
  • The Arctic Ocean is especially prone to ocean acidification, due to water temperatures that are colder than those further south.  The short Arctic food chain leaves Arctic marine ecosystems vulnerable to ocean acidification events.
  • Thawing permafrost releases carbon into the atmosphere, whereas greening tundra absorbs atmospheric carbon.  Overall, tundra is presently releasing net carbon into the atmosphere.
  • Small Arctic mammals, such as shrews, and their parasites, serve as indicators for present and historical environmental variability. Newly acquired parasites indicate northward sifts of sub-Arctic species and increases in Arctic biodiversity.


Underwater – A Report on the Threat of Sea Level Rise in the New York City Metro Area

Under Water How Sea Level Rise Threatens the Tri-State Region, A Report of The Fourth Regional Plan, December 2016.

Coastal regions around the world are struggling to adjust to the gradual but relentless encroachment of ocean waters caused by climate change. The New York metropolitan area, with 23 million residents and some 3,700 miles of tidal coastline, faces a severe threat from sea level rise, yet relatively little has been done to address the inevitable permanent inundation of buildings, infrastructure and communities.

Permanent flooding from sea level rise is different than the intermittent flooding from storm surge or precipitation. Intermittent flooding recedes once a storm passes while sea level rise flooding is permanent and can be expected to encroach further inland over time. Sea level rise not only permanently alters the coast line. It also widens the area vulnerable to storm surge.

This report identifies the places in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut metropolitan area that are most at risk of being permanently flooded, and describes the effects of 1, 3 and 6 feet of sea-level rise on neighborhoods, employment centers and infrastructure. Taking into account the latest scientific findings on sea level rise and climate change, the study finds that many of the major resilience policies, plans and projects under development today fall short of adequately addressing the long term, existential threat of permanent flooding from sea level rise.