How Will Sea Level Rise Affect You?

As a result of sea level rise, coastal hazard events will increase in frequency, severity, and magnitude:

  • Extreme high water levels will increase
  • Coastal flood events of any magnitude will become more frequent
  • Damaging storms will become more frequent due to higher water levels

Because of this, our response to sea level rise will be dictated by events rather than the chronic increase in water levels. These events will impact many coastal communities around the world, in the places where we live, work, and play.  Here are some of the ways that your community may be impacted:

  • Public Access & Recreation: Loss of beaches in places where buildings, roads, or other recreation areas are immediately adjacent to the beach.
  • Coastal Habitats: Transformation of habitats as intertidal zone shifts inland; loss of wetlands and other habitats where areas cannot migrate up or inland due to inland barriers such as coastal development.
  • Coastal Agriculture: Increase in flooding and inundation of low-lying agricultural lands; saltwater intrusion into agricultural water supplies; potential decrease in amount of freshwater available for agricultural uses, or inability of wetlands to keep pace vertically with rising water levels.
  • Cultural Resources: Archeological and paleontological sites, including many Native American villages, religious and ceremonial locations, burial sites, and other areas could be at risk from sea-level rise.
  • Public infrastructure: Low-lying roads, wastewater treatment facilities, energy facilities, stormwater infrastructure, potable water systems, and electricity transfer systems are at risk of inundation and flooding, and impaired function. Infrastructure located on eroding bluffs is also subject to increased geologic hazards.
  • Ports & Marinas: Possible decrease in need for dredging; damage to piers and marina facilities from greater uplift forces and higher water levels; potential difference in heights between ships, cargo handling facilities and drydock/ ship repair facilities.
  • Coastal Development: Greater likelihood of tidal damage, flooding, inundation, and extreme waves, which could lead to loss of property or physical injury; instability from increased erosion and loss/movement of beach sand; increased areas exposed to a 100-year flood.
  • Groundwater Aquifers: Added stress to freshwater supplies as a result of saltwater intrusion and movement of people out of areas that become permanently flooded.