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Coastal Landscape Response to Sea-Level Rise Assessment for the Northeastern United States

Science Center Objects

As part of the USGS Sea-Level Rise Hazards and Decision-Support project, this assessment seeks to predict the response to sea-level rise across the coastal landscape under a range of future scenarios by evaluating the likelihood of inundation as well as dynamic coastal change. The research is being conducted in conjunction with resource managers and decision makers from federal and state agencies, and non-governmental organizations and utilizes a structured decision-making approach to ensure research outcomes meet decision making needs.

The effects of sea-level rise (SLR) and changes in coastal storm intensities are expected to have a broad range of impacts on natural and built environments. These effects include changes in habitat area and/or quality along sandy and/or wetland shorelines, and increased vulnerability of human infrastructure.

This project seeks to provide a geospatially explicit description of coastal landscape change and land loss in response to SLR by evaluating the likelihood of inundation as well as dynamic coastal change in different settings. Probabilistic predictions ensure that consideration of uncertainty is robust and is straightforward to integrate in decision making. This information will directly address decision-support needs elicited in a collaborative Structured Decision Making (SDM) process involving regional resource managers and researchers through the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NALCC). The coastal response information can be used to inform corresponding habitat models, as well as to map out alternative management strategies to optimize conservation efforts and allocate regional resources in the future. As such, our study area encompasses the entire NALCC region which extends from Maine to Virginia.

Map of coastal area within the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation

Coastal area within the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative region for which predictions have been generated.

(Public domain.)


marsh, rocky coast, barrier beach, coastal bluff

The effects of sea-level rise will vary by differences in the geomorphology and ecology of the landscape.  Images show marsh (top left) rocky coast (top right), barrier beach (bottom left), and coastal bluff (bottom right)

(Public domain.)