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ODU Sea Level Rise Expert Ray Toll to Discuss Resilience at D.C. Forum

By Brendan O'Hallarn

Old Dominion University's Ray Toll, director of coastal resilience research and convener of the Hampton Roads Preparedness and Resilience Intergovernmental Pilot Project, will speak March 9 at a conference in Washington about the country's vulnerability from rising sea levels.

Toll, tasked by the White House with convening the two-year pilot project, will appear at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership's annual Public Policy Forum on Capitol Hill.

The theme of this year's forum is "Science and Solutions for a Resilient Ocean." Toll will deliver a keynote address about the Old Dominion-led Pilot Project, and how it reaches beyond coastal issues and connects to ocean resiliency.

"Here in Hampton Roads, we see the effect of sea level rise every day. But it's important to understand wholistically how these issues are linked," Toll said.

In extending an invitation to Toll, retired U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Jonathan White, president and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, stressed the importance of a coordinated approach in mitigation and adaptation to these global changes.

"As a maritime nation, the United States faces critical security, economy, infrastructure, transportation and ecology questions and decisions regarding the impacts of a changing ocean," White wrote.

"Given ODU's leadership in addressing ocean resilience issues, your participation would be greatly appreciated by the entire oceanographic community."

White wrote that the consortium hopes the Public Policy Forum evolves into a vehicle to help facilitate interaction and communication among the administration, Congress, federal agencies and the research community.

That is the same motivation underpinning the Hampton Roads Preparedness and Resilience Intergovernmental Pilot Project, which Toll convened two years ago at Old Dominion, seeking "a whole of government, whole of community" approach to sea level rise mitigation and adaptation.

The two-year pilot, which runs until June of this year, is aimed at providing a template for voluntary, cross-sector cooperation among stakeholders in areas of resilience planning.

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership is a Washington-based nonprofit organization that represents more than 100 of the leading public and private ocean research and education institutions, aquariums and industry with the mission to advance research, education and sound ocean policy.

Old Dominion University has conducted groundbreaking, multidisciplinary research into the areas of sea level rise and recurrent flooding for decades. In 2010, President John R. Broderick created Old Dominion's Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative, which has spawned a series of research projects, grant proposals and community outreach initiatives.

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