Surging Seas Sea level rise analysis by Climate Central


Coastal towns, cities, counties, states and regions from Maine to Louisiana to California are well aware that the sea has already begun to rise, and that it will almost certainly rise significantly more in the coming century than it did in the 1900’s. At all of these levels  —not just among Federal agencies — people have been working on ways to adapt to the coming threat; links to just some of the studies and reports they’ve prepared appear on the Plans, Actions and Resources page of this site.

At this point, most of these studies and reports are focused less on what can be done than on analyzing the nature of the threat locally and establishing a process for making decisions about how to respond. But some places have already taken specific actions. In Boston, for example, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority has designed a wastewater treatment plant to sit nearly two feet higher than the plant it’s replacing, and a New York plant is getting a similar treatment.

In San Francisco Bay, cities in the region are weighing the construction of levees and sea walls to keep the sea from encroaching; they’re also talking about limiting further development close to the water, and physically raising buildings and other structures that are in danger. Here and in other places, local and federal agencies have been restoring coastal marshes, which act as a buffer between sea and solid ground.

All of these actions are obviously far beyond the scope of any individual. In virtually every case, however, the planning that cities, towns and other bodies are doing to plan for sea level rise involve input from anyone who might be affected. For those who want to take some sort of action, getting involved with these planning efforts is one way to do it. It’s also important to stay informed about what the effects of sea level rise are likely to be for your area. One good way to do that is by using the map and map tools on this site.