National Assessment of Coastal Vulnerability to Sea-Level Rise: Preliminary Results for the Atlantic Coast

One of three national assessments of U.S. coastal regions conducted in the late 1990's, this assessment focused on the Atlantic coastline, while the other two focused on the Gulf Coast and Pacific coastlines. The overall goal of these studies was to identify those portions of the U.S. coastal regions at risk and the nature of that risk (e.g., inundation, erosion, etc.). The long-term goal of this study is to predict future coastal changes with a degree of certainty useful for coastal management, following an approach similar to that used to map national seismic and volcanic hazards.

The study creates a Coastal Vulnerability Index for the Atlantic Coast using several factors to provide a quantitative measure of vulnerability. The data that are used to generate this index relate to coastal geomorphology, regional coastal slope, shoreline erosion and accretion rates, rate of relative sea level rise, and mean tidal range and wave height. The combination of these variables and the association of these variables to each other furnishes a broad overview of regions where physical changes will occur due to sea-level rise.

Specific discussions and maps are provided for the New York to New Jersey region and the North Carolina to Georgia region. As some states have conducted their own sea level rise assessments in more recent years, those report would supersede this analysis.

Publication Date: 1999

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • E. Robert Thieler
  • Erika S. Hammar-Klose

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  • Assessment

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