Sea-Level Report Cards: Trends, projections, and processes to aid coastal planning

This tool is created and maintained by the College of William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and provides annual sea-level rise projections and trends for 32 localities across the nation where the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) maintains tidal gauges. The report cards are novel in that sea-level rise projections are presented on a local scale and expected to be updated annually (in January) as tidal gauge data becomes available. In comparison, similar data sets are often on a global scale and released after longer time spans. Additionally, the report cards utilize accelerated rates of sea-level rise versus linear predictions from NOAA. The tool’s intended audience is municipal governments and local citizens and business owners, particularly who own property in areas experiencing or forecasted to be affected by sea-level rise, in order to prepare for future projections.

Each locality’s Sea-Level Report Card includes two graphs, the first for 2050 sea-level rise projections, and the second for recent, year-to-year trends in the rates of sea-level change. The report card also includes a figure with an explanation of the global and local processes that affect sea level at that location, like changes in the density and volume of seawater due to changes in its temperature (thermosteric) or salinity (halosteric), water or oil withdrawal/storage, Greenland and Antarctic ice melts, ocean dynamics, and atmospheric processes. All three of these components are accompanied by a legend that provides a user-friendly explanation of VIMS’s methodology and how to read and interpret each graph/figure and associated trends. A direct link to NOAA’s website for more information about that tidal station is included on every report card as well.

Report cards can be compared across all 32 localities and by East, Gulf, and West Coast regions for sea-level height relative to land in the year 2050 and rates of acceleration and deceleration. The tool also contains a page where users can evaluate the many processes that influence sea-level trends at a regional scale.


Publication Date: 2018

Related Organizations:

  • Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Climate science
  • Modeling tool


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