North Carolina Sea-Level Rise Assessment Report

In March 2010, the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission's (CRC's) Science Panel on Coastal Hazards released this report estimating the extent of land on the North Carolina coast that will be covered by sea-level rise over this century. After explaining how sea-level rise can be assessed and measured, the report provides estimates for sea-level rise through the years 2025, 2050, 2075 and 2100. It concludes with recommendations to make improvements in sea-level monitoring as a first step to adaptation planning.

The Science Panel’s Assessment found that the data pointed to a likely 1 meter (39 inch) increase in sea level by 2100. The 39-inch projection represented the middle of three sea-level rise scenarios considered by the Panel and would be consistent with simply continuing the recent relationship between temperature increase and relative sea level rise in North Carolina.

Due to changes in the state's approach to sea-level rise estimates and related policy development, this report is no longer available on the CRC's website.  A "markup version" was found and is linked here.

Both the Science Panel report and CRC discussion of a draft sea-level rise policy generated opposition from coastal developers, realtors and some local government officials. That opposition led to legislation, Session Law 2012-202, barring any state agency other than the Coastal Resources Commission from adopting a rate of sea level rise for regulatory purposes and preventing the CRC from taking any regulatory action before July 1, 2016. 

An addendum to the report was released on April 4, 2012. 

In the meantime, S.L. 2012-202 directed the Science Panel to provide an update of the 2010 report on sea level rise by March 1, 2015.

Publication Date: March 2010

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User Comments:

  • April 12, 2020
    Leonard Parker, Graduate Student at State of North Carolina

    The writers are outstanding science minded and have years of knowledge regarding the NC coastline. North Carolinians are fortunate that such excellent researchers can shed light on this growing problem and show the public we must take some ownership over allowing land developers to drive such decisions or to shirt laws that are protecting people, holding land to its necessary design, building more and more expecting taxpayers to bail out rebuilding when this report and many others show where such issues will surface over the next 5-10 years. Citizens need to control the conversation in working relationships with scientists, elected leaders and developers in a sound decision-making, data driven process.