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Evaluation of dynamic coastal response to sea-level rise modifies inundation likelihood

March 17, 2016

Sea-level rise (SLR) poses a range of threats to natural and built environments1, 2, making assessments of SLR-induced hazards essential for informed decision making3. We develop a probabilistic model that evaluates the likelihood that an area will inundate (flood) or dynamically respond (adapt) to SLR. The broad-area applicability of the approach is demonstrated by producing 30 × 30 m resolution predictions for more than 38,000 km2 of diverse coastal landscape in the northeastern United States. Probabilistic SLR projections, coastal elevation and vertical land movement are used to estimate likely future inundation levels. Then, conditioned on future inundation levels and the current land-cover type, we evaluate the likelihood of dynamic response versus inundation. We find that nearly 70% of this coastal landscape has some capacity to respond dynamically to SLR, and we show that inundation models over-predict land likely to submerge. This approach is well suited to guiding coastal resource management decisions that weigh future SLR impacts and uncertainty against ecological targets and economic constraints.

Publication Year 2016
Title Evaluation of dynamic coastal response to sea-level rise modifies inundation likelihood
DOI 10.1038/NCLIMATE2957
Authors Erika E. Lentz, E. Robert Thieler, Nathaniel G. Plant, Sawyer R. Stippa, Radley M. Horton, Dean B. Gesch
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Nature Climate Change
Index ID 70169087
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center; Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center