The purpose of the Comprehensive Evaluation of Projects with Respect to Sea Level Change (CESL) is to conduct a series of progressively more detailed screening-level assessments of the vulnerability of USACE projects to the effects of changing sea levels. This process will identify projects that require more detailed analyses and those which will require adaptation sooner.
The screening-level assessments were completed by USACE district staff using a web-based tool that interfaces with USACE geospatial databases, reflect USACE sea level change guidance, and incorporate the sea level calculator. Access to this tool is currently limited to USACE only. The comprehensive evaluation with respect to sea level (CESL) web tool also relies on information developed by other agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Geological Survey (USGS).This effort relies on the extensive expert science provided by the NOAA National Ocean Service with respect to tides and gauges. Their participation on the USACE team allows rapid infusion of science into engineering.
Coastal areas in the U.S. are economic drivers for the whole country, supporting port commerce, valuable fisheries, and multiple revenue streams for state and local governments. However, coastal areas are especially vulnerable to hazards, now and in the future, posed by waves and surges associated with sea level change and coastal storms. Recent hurricane events have emphasized the increasing vulnerability of coastal areas to natural disasters through the combination of changing climate, geological processes and continued urbanization and economic investment. Compared to sea level change, there is less knowledge and less consensus of opinion about how climate change will impact coastal storms. To add even more complexity, these effects will likely be different in the Atlantic than the Gulf of Mexico, and even more different than for the Pacific Coast.
Screening-Level Assessment of Projects with Respect to Sea Level Change Report
Screening-Level Assessment Report Completed
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has released Screening-Level Assessment of Projects with Respect to Sea Level Change (pdf, 1.33 MB). The report is the first in a series of progressively more detailed screening assessments and detailed assessments of the most vulnerable projects and those with the highest consequences. The screening level assessments were completed using the Comprehensive Evaluation with Respect to Sea Level (CESL) web tool and relies on information developed by other agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
The results of this screening level analysis are providing a foundation for USACE to continue a program of progressively more detailed screening assessments before embarking on detailed assessments of the most vulnerable projects and those with the highest consequences. The CESL tool used in USACE screening-level analyses can be made available to others who wish to perform similar coastal vulnerability assessments. This technical transfer has already begun, with the transfer of the technology to Army staff for Installations, Environment, and Energy in 2015. Other users are encouraged to work with the contractors to evaluate the necessary modifications to suit their own particular purposes. By developing, testing, and making this toolkit available to others, USACE is well-aligned with the recommendations of the White House State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force released in November 2014.
Comprehensive Evaluation of Projects with Respect to Sea-Level Change Fact Sheet
Initial Vulnerability Analysis Completed
The first phase of the CESL is the Initial Vulnerability Assessment (IVA). The IVA used the CESL tool to determine the impact of sea level change at the 50- and 100-year planning horizons for coastal projects included in the Corps Project Notebook and located within 40 miles of NOAA's tidally influenced water bodies.
The IVA was completed by district teams overseen by the CESL project team in September 2014. Approximately 1500 projects were identified for IVA. Of these, about 1/3 of the projects were considered to be impacted by sea level change, requiring more detailed assessment. Based on the scores of these potentially impacted projects, about 1/4 were classified as potentially having high or very high impacts. At the current time, the results are undergoing quality assurance and quality control checks. Prioritization of potentially impacted projects begins in early FY15 for the next phase of CESL, with projects classified by IVA as very high or highly vulnerable receiving priority for examination in more detail. A fact sheet (pdf, 292 KB) on the IVA is attached, and a full report was released in 2015.