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Planning for Changing Sea Levels

More than 8 million people live in areas at risk of coastal flooding. Along the U.S. Atlantic Coast alone, almost 60 percent of the land that is within a meter of sea level is planned for further development, with inadequate information on the potential rates and amount of sea level rise.

Global sea level rise has been a persistent trend for decades. It is expected to continue beyond the end of this century, which will cause significant impacts in the United States. Scientists have very high confidence (greater than 90% chance) that global mean sea level will rise at least 8 inches (0.2 meter) and no more than 6.6 feet (2.0 meters) by 2100. Many of the nation's assets related to military readiness, energy, commerce, and ecosystems that support resource-dependent economies are already located at or near the ocean, thus exposing them to risks associated with sea level rise. There is a simple tool to help understand the effects of changing sea levels over time, and a more detailed tool to help understand the effects of changing sea levels over time. The frequently asked questions (FAQS) about the tool will answer other questions you may have concerning these items. A complete discussion of these coastal resilience tools for Sandy recovery can be found on the U.S. Global Change Research Program website.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA has provided best available flood hazard information, preliminary work maps, and other products to provide best available flood hazard information in the New York–New Jersey area. The BFEs/best available elevation information can help communities better understand current flood risks and ensure structures are rebuilt stronger and safer to reduce the impact of similar events in the future.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has developed a Sea-Level Change Calculator to assist in developing information to support its sea-level change policy (pdf), which supports the USACE overarching climate change adaptation policy. This tool has been modified to NOAA scenarios to help people rapidly assess what the coming changes could look like.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA's Climate Program Office has recently published a report about global sea level rise, which has been a persistent trend for decades that is expected to continue beyond the end of this century. The report provides a synthesis of the scientific literature on global sea level rise, and a set of four scenarios of future global sea level rise. The report was produced in collaboration with twelve contributing authors from ten different federal and academic science institutions including NOAA, NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Columbia University, the University of Maryland, the University of Florida, and the South Florida Water Management District.

U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). The USGCRP is a Federal program that coordinates and integrates global change research across 13 government agencies to ensure that it most effectively and efficiently serves the Nation and the world. USGCRP was mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act of 1990, and has since made the world’s largest scientific investment in the areas of climate science and global change research.

Integrated tool partner logos Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration US Army Corps of Engineers United States Global Change Research Program