Closing the Gap Between Science and Implementation in Coastal Adaptation

November 14 - 15, 2022

Join us for a two-day workshop that will bring together academic and management communities to synthesize recent progress in research on estuarine and coastal systems with a special focus on Chesapeake Bay. Identify major challenges in the transdisciplinary field of coastal resiliency  and explore the cost and benefits of engineered structures and nature-based systems.


LOCATION: Conference Center at Crown Plaza, Annapolis, Maryland

HOTEL INFORMATION: Crown Plaza Annapolis, 173 Jennifer Rd, Annapolis, MD 21401. USE THIS LINK or call 855-223-1441 and use group code UMC and group name UMCES to make your hotel reservations.

TRAVEL: Nearby airports include Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI) Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA) airport. Nearby train stations include Washington Union Station and Baltimore Penn Station. For travel-related questions contact Jamie Parks-Shockley at

Monday, November 14

8 - 9 a.m. - Breakfast
9 - 9:30 a.m. - Welcome and workshop agenda
9:30 – 11:45 a.m: - Session: Changing coastal threats: science, impacts, and stakeholder needs

Changing coastal threats: science, impacts and stakeholder needs
Conveners: Cindy Palinkas (University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science), Philip Orton (Steven Institute of Technology), Stefan Talke (California Polytechnic State University), Ming Li (University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science)

Coastal regions are facing challenges related to climate change, water quality, land-use change, and changing balances of rural vs. urban areas, to name a few. While the general issues are known, scientists, policy makers, engineers, government officials, and the public often differ in how they measure, monitor, adapt, and approach the problems of coastal inundation and flooding, as well as barriers they may face in their work.  What are areas of consensus, and where do perspectives diverge, about the main coastal problems caused by climate change, their severity, and their solutions? Do the answers to these questions depend on such factors as geographical location, ecosystem dynamics, and/or community resources?  In this pane, we bring together experts from different stakeholder groups to discuss their perspectives and experiences about the main climate-change risks and hazards facing Chesapeake Bay and other semi-enclosed bays in the US in the coming decades. Based on presentations from the panel of experts, we will gather in small groups to address specific questions, gather additional perspectives from conference participants, and identify critical science, engineering, policy, and societal needs and priorities.  The session will be guided by these overarching questions to identify known and unknown aspects of addressing climate-change hazards:

  • What are the known issues on climatic impacts, and what questions we are not asking? What are the unknown unknowns?
  • What are the “indirect” effects of sea level rise and storms on coastal communities and ecosystems that have been overlooked?
  • What are the gaps in knowledge, tools, and data for stakeholders and scientists?
  • What are the “muddy points”, things that are unclear or need to be researched?
  • What are the biggest hold-ups to coastal adaptation?
  • Where is there consensus, and on what issues are there disagreement?

9:30–10:30 a.m. – Moderated panelist discussion
10:30–10:45 a.m. – Coffee break
10:45–11:45 a.m. – Breakout Session
11:45 a.m. 12:45 pm – Lunch
1–4 p.m. – Session: Moving toward sustainable and equitable coastal adaptation: science, engineering, and governance solutions

Moving toward sustainable and equitable coastal adaptation: science, engineering, and governance solutions
Conveners: Kelsea Best (University of Maryland /UMD), Ming Li (UMCES), Mark Lubell (UC Davis), William Nardin (UMCES), Allison Reilly (UMD), Mark Stacey (UC Berkeley)

During the afternoon, we will focus on solutions to address coastal risks.  Our discussion will center around how creative engineering, science, and finance solutions, along with effective government-community partnerships can unite to achieve equitable and long-lasting beneficial outcomes. While numerous coastal adaptation solutions have been proposed - from nature-based infrastructure to infrastructure renewals - identifying which solutions may be effective over long-time scales, how to ensure benefits accrue equitably among local diverse stakeholders, and, ultimately, how to finance those solutions is far more challenging.  The session will offer reflections on past successful projects, discussion on emerging science and engineering solutions including nature-based and hybrid infrastructure, and dialogue on implementation barriers and where science and innovative partnerships may enable breakthroughs for these barriers. The session will be guided by these overarching questions.

  • What do stakeholders need from scientists and engineers when considering incorporating nature-based systems for their flood protection projects?
  • What are the factors affecting the physical and ecological responses and performances of the green infrastructure?  
  • What are known and unknown about the time scales for both physical and ecological responses of various adaptation interventions? How is this timeline and uncertainty communicated to stakeholders and how will it affect decisions on long-term infrastructure investments?
  • How are the costs and benefits of various flood mitigation measures evaluated? What science is needed to more fully quantify the economic value of the co-benefits?
  • What are appropriate spatial scales for various adaptation interventions? How can governance work to prevent “mismatch” or unintended consequences for efficiency, equity, and sustainability across multiple scales and work towards coordinated regional mitigation strategies in shared waterways? 
  • What are other examples of successful adaptation projects and programs? What lessons can we learn from them? 
  • What financing options already exist for the Bay and how can we facilitate access to those resources? 
  • What creative partnerships and collaborations would facilitate sustainable and equitable, adaptation? Who needs to be in the room and how can we reach them? 
  • What barriers exist for implementing various technological solutions to challenges facing the Bay? What would be needed to address those barriers? 

1–2 p.m. – Moderated panelist discussion I - March Shoreline Projects: marsh processes, financing, social interactions
2–2:30 p.m. – Coffee break / Post-it note brainstorming
2:30–3:30 p.m. – Moderated panelist discussion II - "Beyond the Individual Project:" ecosystem interactions, hydrodynamics, regional policy/infrastructure
3:30–3:50 p.m. – Coffee break / Post-It note brainstorming
3:50–4 p.m. – Overview of afternoon breakout session
4–3:45 p.m. – Breakout session
4:45–5 p.m. – Report back / close-out
5:30–7 p.m. – Dinner reception at hotel


Developing a Science Action and Synthesis Agenda

8–9 a.m. – Breakfast
9–10:30 a.m. – Reports from the panel and breakout sessions
     Reports on changing coastal risks (30 minutes)
     Reports on incorporating nature-based systems for coastal protection (30 minutes)
     Reports on governance and regional implementation (30 minutes)

10:30–11 a.m. – Coffee break
11 a.m.–noon – Breakout session on workshop report
     Brainstorm structure of workshop report
     Breakout room report outs
     Writing session

Noon–1 p.m. -– Lunch
1–2:30 p.m. – Synthesis products
     Synthesis Papers:
     Academic synthesis ideas: brainstorm
     Break into groups to write an outline

2:30–3 p.m. – Coffee break
3-4 p.m. – Concluding discussion
     Final thoughts
     Writing assignments
     Plan for the next in-person workshop
4 p.m. – Workshop adjourned

Questions can be directed to Ming Li at

This workshop is sponsored by National Science Foundation and is a collaboration among the following institutions: