Surging Seas Sea level rise analysis by Climate Central


Climate Central’s Program on Sea Level Rise strives to provide accurate, clear and granular information about sea level rise and coastal flood hazards both locally and globally, today and tomorrow. Anchored in rigorous primary research, our work distinguishes itself by its user-friendly maps and tools, extensive datasets, and high-quality visual presentation. The program dedicates its efforts to helping citizens, communities, businesses, organizations, and governments at every level to understand the consequences of different carbon pathways and to navigate the shifting waters of our warming world.

Our Research is Our Foundation

First and foremost, our work is anchored on the bedrock of peer-reviewed science. Our own contributions have appeared in journals including Environmental Research Letters, Climatic Change, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. and have been downloaded over 60,000 times. In 2012, our early research led to our invited testimony in front of a committee of the U.S. Senate. More recently, our PNAS paper on post-2100 sea level rise being “locked in” by carbon emissions today was profiled in hundreds of stories in the U.S. and global press, from Shanghai to Jakarta to France to Colombia.

Our Mapping Tools are Our Vision

Posted online in 2012, half a year before Superstorm Sandy, our original Surging Seas was the first interactive online map presenting sea level and coastal flood risk information for the entire contiguous U.S. and backed by peer-reviewed science. Now in its second generation, Surging Seas: Risk Zone Map was the only nonprofit-built tool highlighted on the launch-day homepage of the White House Climate Data Initiative. In 2013, with Surging Seas: Risk Finder, we added a tool presenting detailed local projections and analysis of over 100 infrastructure and population variables tabulated by dozens of administrative area types. Our web tools are highlighted on national tool portals including the US Climate Resilience Toolkit, NOAA’s Digital Coast, and EPA’s My Environment. And in 2015, we added Surging Seas: Mapping Choices to visualize the long-term local consequences locked in by different carbon pollution scenarios. Risk Zone Map and Mapping Choices are embeddable and work on any screen size or platform.

Our Outreach is What Inspires Us

Press coverage of the sea level program’s work so far totals more than 5,000 stories. Our research, tools and expertise have been highlighted on the front-page of the New York Times and in small local paper reports; on NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, and TWC; and in outlets around the U.S. and world. More than 60 federal agencies and offices, and more than 100 state agencies, county offices, and city offices each have accessed our tools, plus numerous businesses, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions. Users have downloaded fact sheets, reports, map images and data for planning, vulnerability assessments, emergency preparedness efforts, research, policy analysis, public presentations, education and training. Our sea level content has received more than 10 million page views. (See original launch coverage of Surging Seas or select broadcast video.)

Our Work Compels Us to Think Globally

In November 2015, we expanded our maps and analysis to global scale, addressing the information needs of 6 continents. As world leaders continue to grapple with climate change, the opportunities to help inform national commitments to curb emissions and to arm communities with the tools they need for a resilient future are the driving forces behind our program of research, communications asset development and global outreach.