Sea Level Rise, Climate Change & Design

Through a UGA Public Service and Outreach Fellowship in 2013, I was fortunate to begin collaboration in the joint work of three public service units at UGA as they assisted coastal communities in preparing for sea-level rise and increasing hazards related to extreme weather events. These multi-year, NOAA-funded projects aimed to help governments create plans, assess vulnerabilities in their communities, educate the public, and adapt policies in preparation for impending economic and environmental change. As part of the project team, I used effective visual design as intermediary in making the complex clear, enhancing understanding and building trust between government entities and the governed.

Much of my on these projects (through 2017) involved visualizing complex information such as predicted sea level rise scenarios for non-science audiences like the local community stakeholders who would ultimately make decisions, based on information from the project team, about how their community would prepare for increased coastal hazards. I was also involved in general presentation graphics, project branding and publication, and report design at various stages.

Projects were Tybee Island: Developing a 50-year Climate Adaptation Plan for a Highly Vulnerable Barrier Island Community and Implementing Comprehensive Community Planning in St. Marys GA and Hyde County, NC. 

The final project plans have emerged as a models for other coastal communities across the country. The Tybee Island project won a National Sea Grant Superior Outreach Programming Award and has received significant press as a first-of its kind sea level rise planning collaboration, including mention in the New York Times, in this article, “Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun”. 

Visualizations of NOAA Sea-Level Rise Data

Data includes future scenario predications for 50 and 100 years.

Much of my initial work involved visualizing information and/or data, like predicted sea-level rise scenarios, for non-science audiences like the local community stakeholders in Tybee Island, and later St. Marys, GA and Hyde County, NC, who were ultimately making decisions—based on the information provided from the project team—about how their community would prepare for and mitigate increased coastal hazards. Additionally, St. Marys was able to lower their risk from tidal flooding which decreased their federal flood insurance community rating (CRS) and saved community members on insurance premiums.

Presentation Graphics & Data Display

These presentations were used in various context, including at community stakeholder meetings and generally when the project team members speak on topics related to sea-level rise and climate change. 


The St. Marys projects began with a series of stakeholder interviews, public meetings and facilitated discussions that documented local knowledge about flood vulnerability. Sea Grant researchers led this engagement process based upon the the VCAPS model (Vulnerabilities, Consequences and Adaptations Planning Scenario) for participatory engagement, with the intention of examining how flood risk translates into social, economic, and health consequences in the local area. The conversations also identified potential strategies for preventing or responding to these impacts. The results from the process were then used to inform a series of custom vulnerability assessments that analyzed current and future flood risks to property and infrastructure under different sea-level rise scenarios.


Publications & Reports

Executive summaries and other reports were generated along as the projects progressed, but each project culminated in a thorough report publication with initially research, complete findings and suggested mitigations, ranging from 70–80 pages.

Conference Poster Design System

Establishing am initial design and system that could be used internally. So I aimed for a clean, organized design and visual system, and used typefaces that I know the collaborators would have access to via the Adobe CC software.