Sea-level Rise, Coastal Flooding, and Storm Events

Sea-level rise and potential drowning of the Italian coastal plains: Flooding risk scenarios for 2100

Antonioli F, Anzidei M, Amorosi A, V. Presti L, Mastronuzzi G, Deiana G, De Falco G, Fontana A, Fontolan G, Lisco S, et al. Sea-level rise and potential drowning of the Italian coastal plains: Flooding risk scenarios for 2100. Quaternary Science Reviews [Internet]. 2017 ;158:29 - 43. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277379116307430
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

We depict the relative sea-level rise scenarios for the year 2100 from four areas of the Italian peninsula. Our estimates are based on the Rahmstorf (2007) and IPCC-AR5 reports 2013 for the RCP-8.5 scenarios (www.ipcc.ch) of climate change, adjusted for the rates of vertical land movements (isostasy and tectonics). These latter are inferred from the elevation of MIS 5.5 deposits and from late Holocene sea-level indicators, matched against sea-level predictions for the same periods using the glacio-hydro-isostatic model of Lambeck et al. (2011). We focus on a variety of tectonic settings: the subsiding North Adriatic coast (including the Venice lagoon), two tectonically stable Sardinia coastal plains (Oristano and Cagliari), and the slightly uplifting Taranto coastal plain, in Apulia. Maps of flooding scenarios are shown on high-resolution Digital Terrain Models mostly based on Lidar data. The expected relative sea-level rise by 2100 will change dramatically the present-day morphology, potentially flooding up to about 5500 km2 of coastal plains at elevations close to present-day sea level.

The subsequent loss of land will impact the environment and local infrastructures, suggesting land planners and decision makers to take into account these scenarios for a cognizant coastal management. Our method developed for the Italian coast can be applied worldwide in other coastal areas expected to be affected by marine ingression due to global climate change.

Centuries of thermal sea-level rise due to anthropogenic emissions of short-lived greenhouse gases

Zickfeld K, Solomon S, Gilford DM. Centuries of thermal sea-level rise due to anthropogenic emissions of short-lived greenhouse gases. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Internet]. 2017 . Available from: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/01/03/1612066114.abstract.html?etoc
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Mitigation of anthropogenic greenhouse gases with short lifetimes (order of a year to decades) can contribute to limiting warming, but less attention has been paid to their impacts on longer-term sea-level rise. We show that short-lived greenhouse gases contribute to sea-level rise through thermal expansion (TSLR) over much longer time scales than their atmospheric lifetimes. For example, at least half of the TSLR due to increases in methane is expected to remain present for more than 200 y, even if anthropogenic emissions cease altogether, despite the 10-y atmospheric lifetime of this gas. Chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons have already been phased out under the Montreal Protocol due to concerns about ozone depletion and provide an illustration of how emission reductions avoid multiple centuries of future TSLR. We examine the “world avoided” by the Montreal Protocol by showing that if these gases had instead been eliminated in 2050, additional TSLR of up to about 14 cm would be expected in the 21st century, with continuing contributions lasting more than 500 y. Emissions of the hydrofluorocarbon substitutes in the next half-century would also contribute to centuries of future TSLR. Consideration of the time scales of reversibility of TSLR due to short-lived substances provides insights into physical processes: sea-level rise is often assumed to follow air temperature, but this assumption holds only for TSLR when temperatures are increasing. We present a more complete formulation that is accurate even when atmospheric temperatures are stable or decreasing due to reductions in short-lived gases or net radiative forcing.

Sedimentary records of recent sea level rise and acceleration in the Yucatan Peninsula

Carnero-Bravo V, Sanchez-Cabeza J-A, Ruiz-Fernández ACarolina, Merino-Ibarra M, Hillaire-Marcel C, Corcho-Alvarado JAntonio, Röllin S, Diaz-Asencio M, Cardoso-Mohedano J-G, Zavala-Hidalgo J. Sedimentary records of recent sea level rise and acceleration in the Yucatan Peninsula. Science of The Total Environment [Internet]. 2016 ;573:1063 - 1069. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969716318459
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Recent eustatic sea level rise (SLR) is one of the most striking manifestations of recent climate change as it directly impacts coastal activities and ecosystems. Although global SLR is well-known, local values differ due to vertical land motion, and changes in atmospheric pressure, ocean currents and temperatures. Although a reliable estimation of local SLR trends is needed to assess coastal zone vulnerabilities and plan adaptation strategies, instrumental records are usually short or sparse, especially in developing countries. Here we show that 210Pb-dated sedimentary records from mangrove saltmarshes can provide useful decadal records of local SLR trends. We quantified sediment accretion rates in sediment cores from remote mangrove saltmarshes of the Yucatan Peninsula. Best SLR records were observed for cores collected near mean sea level (MSL). During most of the XX century the SLR rate ranged from 1-2 mm yr-1, increased to a maximum of 4.5 ± 0.6 mm yr-1 and the acceleration was 0.13 mm yr-2. Assuming either a constant SLR rate or acceleration, by the end of this century MSL level will be 39 cm or 91 cm above the present value. Both coastal infrastructures and ecosystems will be negatively affected by SLR and society will need to adapt relatively fast to the new conditions.

Threatened protection: Sea level rise and coastal protected lands of the eastern United States

Epanchin-Niell R, Kousky C, Thompson A, Walls M. Threatened protection: Sea level rise and coastal protected lands of the eastern United States. Ocean & Coastal Management [Internet]. 2017 ;137:118 - 130. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096456911630429X
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Federal, state, and local governments in the United States, along with land trusts and other nonprofit organizations, have invested significant financial resources in protection of natural lands in coastal areas. As the climate changes, protected lands could provide increased resilience to coastal communities, yet climate change also poses a threat to the continued existence and healthy functioning of these ecosystems. The objectives of this research are to characterize the distribution and types of coastal protected lands in the eastern United States, estimate their exposure to sea level rise, evaluate the potential impact of this exposure on associated ecosystem services, and then discuss appropriate adaptation measures. For this, we construct an inventory of coastal protected lands in shoreline counties of US states along the Atlantic. We summarize their ownership and land cover and evaluate their exposure to a 3-foot (0.91 m) rise in sea level. We find substantial variation in the amount of lands protected in coastal shoreline counties, from a high of 34 percent in Florida to a low of 7 percent in Pennsylvania. Federal ownership is greatest in the South, whereas state ownership dominates in the Mid-Atlantic. Private groups own large shares of protected lands in Maine, New Hampshire, Delaware, and Maryland. Moving south, dominant land covers in protected areas shift from forests to wetlands. We find that one quarter of protected lands in shoreline counties will be affected by 3 feet of sea level rise, with substantial heterogeneity in exposure across states and greater impacts in southern states. Almost 50 percent of federal lands and around 25 percent of state lands will be affected. While substantial proportions of estuarine wetlands and unconsolidated shore (beaches and dunes) are currently protected and provide key coastal ecosystem services, 95 and 91 percent of these protected systems, respectively, will be affected by 3 feet of sea level rise. We discuss the potential consequences and the associated reductions in ecosystem service provisioning from sea level rise in the context of current funding and adaptation planning for conservation. We find that some of the states facing the greatest challenges are those lacking plans and funding. The large heterogeneity in ownership, land covers, and funding across states suggests that adaptation policies for coastal protected lands will need to be tailored to the local context; a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to be as effective.

Climate Ready Boston

Anon. Climate Ready Boston. Boston, Massachusetts: City of Boston; 2016. Available from: https://www.boston.gov/environment-and-energy/climate-ready-boston
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

Boston residents are already affected by extreme heat, rain, snow and flooding. These trends will likely continue. The City launched Climate Ready Boston to help Boston plan for the future impacts of climate change.

Climate Ready Boston is an ongoing initiative. We released a comprehensive study report in December 2016 that you can read below.  Next, we plan to work with the community and other partners to help advance our vision for a Climate Ready Boston.

Please note: the full report is approximately 120 MB, and includes detailed maps which may increase load-times on mobile devices and older computers. You may download the full-text from the City of Boston's website, shown above.

Assessing tidal marsh resilience to sea-level rise at broad geographic scales with multi-metric indices

Raposa KB, Wasson K, Smith E, Crooks JA, Delgado P, Fernald SH, Ferner MC, Helms A, Hice LA, Mora JW, et al. Assessing tidal marsh resilience to sea-level rise at broad geographic scales with multi-metric indices. Biological Conservation [Internet]. 2016 ;204:263 - 275. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320716305742
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Tidal marshes and the ecosystem services they provide may be at risk from sea-level rise (SLR). Tidal marsh resilience to SLR can vary due to differences in local rates of SLR, geomorphology, sediment availability and other factors. Understanding differences in resilience is critical to inform coastal management and policy, but comparing resilience across marshes is hindered by a lack of simple, effective analysis tools. Quantitative, multi-metric indices are widely employed to inform management of benthic aquatic ecosystems, but not coastal wetlands. Here, we develop and apply tidal marsh resilience to sea-level rise (MARS) indices incorporating ten metrics that contribute to overall marsh resilience to SLR. We applied MARS indices to tidal marshes at 16 National Estuarine Research Reserves across the conterminous U.S. This assessment revealed moderate resilience overall, although nearly all marshes had some indication of risk. Pacific marshes were generally more resilient to SLR than Atlantic ones, with the least resilient marshes found in southern New England. We provide a calculation tool to facilitate application of the MARS indices to additional marshes. MARS index scores can inform the choice of the most appropriate coastal management strategy for a marsh: moderate scores call for actions to enhance resilience while low scores suggest investment may be better directed to adaptation strategies such as creating opportunities for marsh migration rather than attempting to save existing marshes. The MARS indices thus provide a powerful new approach to evaluate tidal marsh resilience and to inform development of adaptation strategies in the face of SLR.

STORMTOOLS: Coastal Environmental Risk Index (CERI)

Spaulding M, Grilli A, Damon C, Crean T, Fugate G, Oakley B, Stempel P. STORMTOOLS: Coastal Environmental Risk Index (CERI). Journal of Marine Science and Engineering [Internet]. 2016 ;4(3):54. Available from: http://www.mdpi.com/2077-1312/4/3/54
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

One of the challenges facing coastal zone managers and municipal planners is the development of an objective, quantitative assessment of the risk to structures, infrastructure, and public safety that coastal communities face from storm surge in the presence of changing climatic conditions, particularly sea level rise and coastal erosion. Here we use state of the art modeling tool (ADCIRC and STWAVE) to predict storm surge and wave, combined with shoreline change maps (erosion), and damage functions to construct a Coastal Environmental Risk Index (CERI). Access to the state emergency data base (E-911) provides information on structure characteristics and the ability to perform analyses for individual structures. CERI has been designed as an on line Geographic Information System (GIS) based tool, and hence is fully compatible with current flooding maps, including those from FEMA. The basic framework and associated GIS methods can be readily applied to any coastal area. The approach can be used by local and state planners to objectively evaluate different policy options for effectiveness and cost/benefit. In this study, CERI is applied to RI two communities; Charlestown representing a typical coastal barrier system directly exposed to ocean waves and high erosion rates, with predominantly low density single family residences and Warwick located within Narragansett Bay, with more limited wave exposure, lower erosion rates, and higher residential housing density. Results of these applications are highlighted herein.

Coastal sea level rise with warming above 2 °C

Jevrejeva S, Jackson LP, Riva REM, Grinsted A, Moore JC. Coastal sea level rise with warming above 2 °C. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Internet]. 2016 :201605312. Available from: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/11/02/1605312113
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
Yes
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $10.00
Type: Journal Article

Two degrees of global warming above the preindustrial level is widely suggested as an appropriate threshold beyond which climate change risks become unacceptably high. This “2 °C” threshold is likely to be reached between 2040 and 2050 for both Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 and 4.5. Resulting sea level rises will not be globally uniform, due to ocean dynamical processes and changes in gravity associated with water mass redistribution. Here we provide probabilistic sea level rise projections for the global coastline with warming above the 2 °C goal. By 2040, with a 2 °C warming under the RCP8.5 scenario, more than 90% of coastal areas will experience sea level rise exceeding the global estimate of 0.2 m, with up to 0.4 m expected along the Atlantic coast of North America and Norway. With a 5 °C rise by 2100, sea level will rise rapidly, reaching 0.9 m (median), and 80% of the coastline will exceed the global sea level rise at the 95th percentile upper limit of 1.8 m. Under RCP8.5, by 2100, New York may expect rises of 1.09 m, Guangzhou may expect rises of 0.91 m, and Lagos may expect rises of 0.90 m, with the 95th percentile upper limit of 2.24 m, 1.93 m, and 1.92 m, respectively. The coastal communities of rapidly expanding cities in the developing world, and vulnerable tropical coastal ecosystems, will have a very limited time after midcentury to adapt to sea level rises unprecedented since the dawn of the Bronze Age.

Coastal Adaptation Strategies Handbook 2016

Beavers R, Babson A, Schupp C eds. Coastal Adaptation Strategies Handbook 2016. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service; 2016. Available from: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/climatechange/coastalhandbook.htm
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

The Coastal Adaptation Strategies Handbook summarizes the current state of NPS climate adaptation and key approaches currently in practice or considered for climate change adaptation in coastal areas in order to guide adaptation planning in coastal parks. The chapters focus on policy, planning, cultural resources, natural resources, facility management, and communication/education. The handbook highlights processes, tools and examples that are applicable to many types of NPS plans and decisions. One chapter includes a case study of Hurricane Sandy response and recovery strategies including changes to infrastructure. Another chapter features practical coastal infrastructure information including cost per unit length of constructed features (including seawalls, beach nourishment, and nature-based features). The level of detail varies by topic depending on the state of research and practice in that field.

The shore is wider than the beach: Ecological planning solutions to sea level rise for the Jersey Shore, USA

Burger J, O’Neill KM, Handel SN, Hensold B, Ford G. The shore is wider than the beach: Ecological planning solutions to sea level rise for the Jersey Shore, USA. Landscape and Urban Planning [Internet]. 2017 ;157:512 - 522. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169204616301761
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Coastal communities worldwide are faced with climate change effects that include sea level rise and increases in the severity and frequency of storms. We present a framework for coastal adaptation to these impacts in planning efforts, using the landscape of the Toms River-Barnegat Bay ecosystem in New Jersey (eastern coast of United States, 90 km south of New York City) as a case study. This plan is a proof-of-concept, showing that collaborative design can improve the ability of shore regions in many regions to recover from storms and sea level rise if it uses a broad concept of the shore’s ecological and geomorphological structures. Ecological connections are maintained or restored from the sand beach through the tidal bay to the mainland Pine Barrens, allowing species to migrate inland as their ecosystems change over time. This plan also re-envisions shore tourism by attracting visitors to the larger and wider shore area, an approach that can maintain or even increase social and economic activity as sea level changes. Transportation routes connecting the changing shoreline area to inland sites help to integrate social activities throughout the region. Watershed based projects to handle stormwater runoff from severe inland storms are also required. These principles can be applied in any coastal landscape where sea level rise is expected. This approach was fostered and supported by a USHUD program – Rebuild by Design – to incorporate unique, collaborative, architectural and ecological approaches to changing climate and sea level rise in Hurricane Sandy-affected states. These ecological concepts can be adapted for use to maintain biotic and economic processes in threatened coastal communities.

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