Using Virtual Reality in Sea Level Rise Planning and Community Engagement—An Overview
Abstract: As coastal communities around the globe contend with the impacts of climate change including coastal hazards such as sea level rise and more frequent coastal storms, educating stake- holders and the general public has become essential in order to adapt to and mitigate these risks. Communicating SLR and other coastal risks is not a simple task. First, SLR is a phenomenon that is ab- stract as it is physically distant from many people; second, the rise of the sea is a slow and temporally distant process which makes this issue psychologically distant from our everyday life. Virtual reality (VR) simulations may offer a way to overcome some of these challenges, enabling users to learn key principles related to climate change and coastal risks in an immersive, interactive, and safe learning environment. This article first presents the literature on environmental issues communication and engagement; second, it introduces VR technology evolution and expands the discussion on VR application for environmental literacy. We then provide an account of how three coastal communities have used VR experiences developed by multidisciplinary teams—including residents—to support communication and community outreach focused on SLR and discuss their implications.