From Tides to Storms: Preparing for New Hampshire's Future Coast - Assessing Risk and Vulnerability of Coastal Communities to Sea-Level Rise and Storm Surge

Developed by the Rockingham Planning Commission, the Tides to Storms project worked with 7 coastal communities in New Hampshire (Seabrook, Hampton Falls, Hampton, North Hampton, Rye, New Castle, Portsmouth) to assess their vulnerability to flooding from storm surge and sea-level rise. A regional vulnerability assessment was developed, as well as an assessment report and map set were prepared for each of the seven coastal municipalities. Each assessment considers risks to roadways and supporting transportation infrastructure, critical facilities and infrastructure, and natural resources. The Commission suggests that the adaptation and resiliency recommendations from this project should be considered for incorporation into local hazard mitigation plans.

As described in further detail in the report, sea-level rise in this area has the potential to displace coastal populations, threaten infrastructure, intensify coastal flooding and ultimately lead to the loss of homes, businesses, public infrastructure, recreation areas, public space, and coastal wetlands and salt marsh. Sea-level rise may also reduce the effectiveness and integrity of existing seawalls, which have been designed for historically lower water levels.

A sea level rise analysis was conducted to determine the inundation risk to key assets (including transportation, critical facilities, infrastructure and natural resources) to evaluate the quantitative impacts of the flooding. The findings are outlined for each of the four asset types in the project overview report, as well as strategic recommendations for adaptation and resiliency. 

Numerous recommendations were developed based on the assessment for: policy and capacity building, municipal planning, municipal regulations, outreach and engagement. The policy and capacity building recommendations are to:

  • Strengthen state, regional and municipal capacity to understand risks and vulnerability to potential future impacts of climate change.
  • Integrate protection of natural and constructed systems, social services, and historic and cultural resources into engineering and regulatory frameworks of shoreline management.
  • Integrate climate mitigation actions across all sectors of planning, transportation, land development and infrastructure projects.
  • Provide guidance and recommendations to incorporate climate adaptation strategies and actions in state and regional policy, planning and regulatory sectors.


This project is funded by New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management through a Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Additional funding for this project provided by the NH Department of Transportation through Federal Highways Administration. Technical support and data provided by NH GRANIT.



Publication Date: September 2015

Related Organizations:

  • Rockingham Planning Commission


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment
  • Policy analysis/recommendations

States Affected:


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