Relative Coastal Vulnerability Assessment of National Park Units to Sea-Level Rise

Science Center Objects

The National Park Service (NPS) is responsible for managing nearly 12,000 km (7,500 miles) of shoreline along oceans and lakes. In 2001 the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in partnership with the NPS Geologic Resources Division, began conducting hazard assessments of future sea-level change by creating maps to assist NPS in managing its valuable resources. This website contains results of the coastal vulnerability index (CVI) assessment for several national park units, highlighting areas that are likely to be most affected by future sea-level or lake-level change.

Through the use of a CVI, the likelihood that physical changes will occur as sea-level rises is quantified based on the following criteria: tidal range, wave height, coastal slope, shoreline change, geomorphology, and historical rate of relative sea-level rise. This approach combines a coastal system's susceptibility to change with its natural ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions, and yields a relative measure of the system's natural vulnerability to the effects of sea-level or lake-level change. National Park Service staff are using the CVI data for long-term resource management plans, park facilities planning such as relocating building or roads, and assessing long-term threats to resources.

Map of coastal vulnerability index for offshore Fire Island, NY

The Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI) provides insight into the relative potential of coastal change due to future sea-level rise. The maps and data presented here can be viewed in at least two ways: 1) as an example of where physical changes are most likely to occur as sea-level rises; and 2) as a planning tool for Fire Island National Seashore.

(Public domain.)