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Poster Presentation Abstracts

Joint Archive for Sea Level: A Resource for Sea Level Rise Research  

Pat Caldwell, Regional Science Officer, Honolulu, Hawai’i, National Coastal Data Development Center (NCDDC)

Dr. Mark Merrifield, Director, University of Hawai’i Sea Level Center (UHSLC)

Russ Beard, Director, NCDDC  

National Coastal Data Development Center (NCDDC)

National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC)                                         

National Environment Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)


The Joint Archive for Sea Level (JASL) is a collaborative effort between the University of Hawaii Sea Level Center (UHSLC) and the NOAA Data Centers (NODC and NCDDC), with the objective of making high quality, international, long-term time series of sea level data available for scientific research, education, and commerce.  The UHSLC provides scientific guidance while the NOAA data centers lend expertise in data management.  The JASL is designated as an archive center of the Global Sea Level Observing System (GLOSS), which is conducted under the auspices of the Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM) of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).  The JASL solicits contributions of recent and historic hourly sea level data from over 60 agencies representing over 70 countries.  Hourly intervals allow a fine resolution in quality control.  The JASL is the largest international archive of research quality hourly sea level data.  From the hourly data, daily and monthly means are computed.  The hourly, daily, and monthly values are submitted annually to the Word Data Center for Oceanography-Silver Spring, co-located with the NODC, and the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) in the United Kingdom.  The JASL is a valuable resource for investigations of long-term, large scale, sea level variations such as global sea level rise.

Implications of Black Mangrove (Avicennia sp.) Colony Expansion in the Gulf of Mexico with Climate Change: Wetland Health and Resistance to Rising Sea Levels

Rebecca Comeaux1; Mead Allison1, Thomas Bianchi2

1Institute for Geophysics, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA; 2Department of Oceanography, Texas A&M University at College Station, College Station, TX, USA.



Populations of black mangroves (Avicennia sp.) are hypothesized to expand their latitudinal range because of a reduction in the frequency of coastal freezes, which limit mangrove colonies and individual tree size, and an overall warmer climate.  The Gulf of Mexico is located at the northward limit of black mangrove habitat and is therefore a prime candidate for population expansion to occur.  This colonization would replace Spartina ssp. marsh.  We hypothesize that mangrove root systems raise soil elevations (by rooting and increased sediment trapping) and increase resistance to land loss and edge erosion from storm waves, due to elevation and increased soil strength.  In addition to elevation changes, mangrove expansion may alter organic carbon sequestration and change estuarine productivity in adjacent water bodies.  The focus of this study is not to validate the expansion of mangrove populations in the Gulf of Mexico, but to examine the regional and global implications of this expansion with respect to predicted rises in sea level, cyclonic storms, and global carbon storage.  

 Field sites of adjacent and intergrown Avicennia mangrove and Spartina marsh populations in similar geomorphological setting were selected in backbarrier areas near Port Aransas and Galveston, TX (two sites each).  High-accuracy (±1 cm) elevation maps over ~5,000 m2 areas were created using a GPS base station and transit topographic mapping.  Peat auger (no compaction) cores from marsh and mangrove areas were collected for sampling of organic matter content, pore water chemistry, Pb/Cs sediment accumulation rates, sediment grain size, and pigment and lignin-phenol biomarkers of organic matter source(s).  Elevation surveys to date indicate mangrove areas are a few centimeters higher in elevation than surrounding marsh at the patch and individual mangrove scale, with less of an elevation offset in clayey versus sandy soils.  Preliminary results of core sediments indicate porosity is lower in mangrove rooted horizons (upper ~20 cm), with a corresponding increase in sediment strength.  No consistent variation in grain size has been observed on sites thus far, suggesting little evidence for increased trapping of suspended particulates in the mangrove areas, although data on sediment accumulation rates is still being processed.   Our reconnaissance for site surveys to date, ultimately designed to cover the full latitudinal range of the western Gulf of Mexico, suggests that black mangrove populations are clustered near inlet areas, indicating seed transport pathways are a major control on colony establishment, and likely, the rapidity of habitat replacement.  

Modeling Considerations for Estimating Coastal Inundation Risk in the Gulf of Mexico and Consequences of Sea Level Rise

Dmitry S. Dukhovskoy1; Steven L. Morey1  

1Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-2840;  



T he vulnerability to Sea Level Rise for the Gulf of Mexico coast varies significantly because of spatial differences in: the coastline geometry, tides, beach slope, and frequency of hurricane impacts. For example, Hurricane Dennis (2005) caused extreme flooding along the coastal zone of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, even though local winds were relatively weak.  A modeling study presented here shows that this region is particularly susceptible to intense flooding during storms due to its coastline geometry in relation to storm tracks, even though this region is less frequently directly impacted by hurricanes compared to other places in the Gulf.  Improvements in storm surge modeling methodologies are being applied to assess the geographic differences in flooding risks from storm surges and waves compared to risk of loss due to high winds.  One of the likely impacts of Sea Level Rise on the region is higher vulnerability to coastal inundation and flooding.  Predicting the change in inundation risk due to sea level rise along the Gulf of Mexico coast over extended temporal scales is important for assessing potential future economic, social, and environmental transformations of the region.  

Height and Sediment Grain-Size Distribution of Beach Ridge Dunes on North Padre Island, Western Gulf of Mexico : Implications for Estimating Regional Centennial to Millennial Sea-Level Fluctuations and Paleo-Storm Intensity  

James R. Garrison, Jr.1, Joshua Williams1, Alberto Mestas-Nunez2, and Timothy Dellapenna1  

1Coastal Geology Laboratory, Department of Marine Sciences, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Galveston, Texas 77554; 2Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, Texas 78412



Beach dune ridge height and grain-size distributions are, in part, controlled by sea level and wave intensity and can be used as proxies for evaluating the magnitude and periodicity of meter-scale-sea-level fluctuations and paleo-storm intensities. Low dune ridges, formed during periods of sea-level lowstand and low storm intensity, are characterized by grain-size distributions exhibiting high kurtosis. High dune ridges, formed during periods of sea-level highstands and high storm intensity, are characterized by grain-size distributions with low kurtosis.  

On North Padre Island low dune ridges exhibit grain-size distributions with high kurtosis and a low abundance of storm-induced sand. High dune ridges exhibit poly-modal grain-size distributions with low kurtosis suggesting that dune sand is a mixture of poly-modal storm-induced shoreface sand. An analysis of shoreface grain-size distributions has resulted in a mixing model that suggests storm-induced sand is sourced from different water depths along the shoreface profile. The grain-size distribution of storm sand is controlled by the depth of storm wave base, which is positively correlated with storm intensity.


The dune sand grain-size mixing model and dune elevation data suggest climate-induced-sea-level fluctuations in the Gulf of Mexico with periods of 200-250, 400-500, and 900-1,000 years, consistent with the periodicities observed in published Late Holocene sea-level curves and climate-change proxy curves. These changes are consistent with centennial- and millennial-scale changes over the North Atlantic Ocean.  

Responsiveness of Large Scale Habitat Restoration Projects to Sea Level Rise


Goecker, Meg1 ; Benson, Kristopher2  

1IM Systems Group, NOAA Restoration Center, Mobile, AL 36615; 2NOAA Restoration Center, Galveston, TX, 77551.



One of the most important factors for consideration in design of coastal restoration projects is sea level rise.  With funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), NOAA Restoration Center (RC) has funded large-scale restoration projects designed to produce significant ecological habitat features to create buffers, which protect coastal communities from sea level rise, coastal storms, and flooding.  In the Gulf of Mexico (TX, LA and AL), ARRA projects are being implemented using innovative adaptive management restoration techniques that are designed to be long-lasting in the face of rising sea levels.  Salt marsh restoration/creation projects have specific elevation designs to allow for the migration of intertidal marsh to higher elevations as relative sea level rises, potentially three feet over the next 100 years.  Oyster reef restoration projects, besides serving as shoreline stabilizers, are self-maintaining and self-sustaining, resulting in continuous building of the reef that can potentially keep up with effects of sea level rise.  Three different types of reefs (ReefBlk, Reef Ball and oyster bags) are being trialed to learn which will lessen increased wave action and allow for accretion and migration of habitat behind the reef.  There are many assumptions and hypotheses behind the use of these types of restoration techniques.  The results from these projects should help us to further elucidate valid techniques that will be responsive to sea level rise and will make these Gulf shorelines more resilient to a changing climate.   

Simulating Mississippi River Conditions after Future Perturbations

Karadogan, E.1; Willson, C.1  

1 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803  



Approximately 1500-1900 mi2 of land, primarily low-lying coastal marshes on Louisiana’s delta plain, have become submerged since the 1930s. The deterioration of the LA coastal marshes, which are of major ecological, recreational and economical importance, is alarming and of national concern because it represents approximately 90 percent of the total coastal marsh loss occurring in the United States.  

In most of the Louisiana coastal area, relative sea level rise, that controls total land loss, is approximately one order of magnitude greater than the global sea level rise rate and has caused large increases in the amount of coastal land which is submerged and subjected to erosion pressures together with the duration of flooding. Even though factors such as hydrologic isolation of the wetlands and geological subsidence may be more relevant for the land loss problem than global sea level rise, increases in the eustatic sea level will have an important impact on the dynamics of the lower River system.  

A two-dimensional hydrodynamic finite element adaptive model for the Lower Mississippi River Delta (from River Mile 105 to Gulf of Mexico) that includes all of the lower River passes and openings together with many of the dynamic forcings from the Gulf has been calibrated and validated. In this presentation, model results will show the impact of future sea level rise on flow distribution through the various passes and general sediment transport behavior of the river system. We will also discuss potential implications for management of the lower River.  

Dynamical and Climatic Forcings of Tide Gauge Variability  

Alexander S. Kolker1, Valerie Cruz1, and Sultan Hameed2  

1Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Chauvin, LA

2School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY  

Rates of global sea-level rise calculated for the last century and recent decades range from about 1.1 mm yr-1 to 3.1 mm yr-1, with the higher values found for the more recent episodes. However, these sea level changes are occurring against a backdrop in which season and annual variability in sea level is orders of magnitude greater than the long-term trend. This variability makes it difficult to calculate long-term trends. Many investigators cope with the confounding effects caused by this variability by averaging large and long-term data sets. An alternative approach is to understand the causes of this variability and to use this understanding as a means to better elucidate patterns in the tide gauge records. Here we present data seasonal and interannual sea-level data from a suite of tide gauges on the Gulf Coast and both coasts of the Atlantic Ocean. After adjusting for glacial isostatic adjustments, sea-level variability at these sites can be understood in terms of seasonal meteorological processes, shifts in global wind and pressure fields, changes in the position on atmospheric centers of action, and global climate change. This work provides key insights into the relative importance between climate variability and climate trends.  

Interannual Variability of Extreme Sea Level Anomalies along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico Coastline  

Steven L. Morey1; Andrew J. Kennedy2; Shawn R. Smith1; Melissa L. Griffin1; James J. O’Brien1

 1Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-2840; 2National Weather Service, Marquette, MI Weather Forecast Office, 112 Airpark Drive South, Negaunee, MI 49866



Coastal sea level anomalies responsible for flooding and extreme low water conditions are driven by extra-tropical and tropical storms in the Gulf of Mexico.  This study examines daily sea level records over the past fifty years to identify trends and modes of variability in the coastal sea level.  A strong seasonal signal is evident in the sea level variability, with maximum variability in the winter months.  Interannual variability in the frequency of occurrence of the extreme sea level anomalies is associated with El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) during the fall and winter. This is consistent with ENSO-related changes in the genesis location of extratropical atmospheric low pressure systems and in the tracks of these weather systems. The impacts of tropical systems in the summer through early fall months on coastal sea level in the GOM are shown by infrequent extreme high and low anomalies coinciding with individual storms. However, the number of storms affecting the data record from a particular sea level station is too small to confirm ENSO related variability. Statistical methods are employed to demonstrate a significant link between extreme sea-level anomalies in the GOM and ENSO during the October to March period.

Human Dimension Information Resources for Community Resilience and Sea Level Rise Planning:  NOAA County Snapshots and Spatial Trends in Coastal Socioeconomics Web Site  

Pacheco, Percy1; Heidi Recksiek2; Ache, Brent1; Wiley, Peter3

1 NOAA Ocean Service, 1305 East West Highway N/MB7, Silver Spring, MD  20910

2 NOAA Coastal Services Center, 350 Caroll Street, Eastpoint, FL  32328

3 NOAA Coastal Services Center, 1315 East West Highway, 10th Floor, Silver Spring, MD 20910



Two new NOAA products provide coastal and ocean managers with human dimension information for community resilience and sea level rise planning.  First, the County Snapshots provides local officials with a summary look at demographic, infrastructure, and land use information within the FEMA 100-year flood zone for the Nation’s coastal counties.  Second, the Spatial Trends in Coastal Socioeconomics – or STICS – Web site allows users to dig deeper into the demographic and economic status and trends within this same flood zone area.  STICS recompiles several national demographic and economic datasets into a variety of geographic units that coastal and ocean managers must work with on a daily basis:  (1) placed-based management programs, for example, the NOAA National Estuarine Research Reserves and the USEPA National Estuary Programs; coastal floodplains, for example, FEMA 100-year flood hazard areas; coastal watersheds, for example, NOAA estuaries and USGS hydrologic units; and political areas, for example, counties, states, and Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) state coastal zone management program boundaries.  STICS currently offers the following national datasets: (1) demographic information from the U.S. Census Bureau; (2) personal income and employment information from the Bureau of Economic Analysis; (3) demographic projections developed by Woods and Poole Economics, Inc.; and (4) participation in coastal recreational activities from the National Survey on Recreation in the Environment.  The STICS Quick Report Tool provides a map-based interface to easily discover demographic and economic characteristics of the 100-year flood zone for the Nation’s coastal counties.  

Past and Future Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Coastal Habitats and Species in the Greater Everglades  


Rosen, B.1; Langtimm, C. A.2; DeAngelis, D. L.2.; Krohn, M. D.3, Smith, T. J. III2; Stith, B. M.2; Swain, E. D.4 

1USGS-Office of the Regional Executive-SE Area, Orlando, FL; 2USGS-Southeast Ecological Science Center, Gainesville, FL; 3USGS-St. Petersburg Science Center, St. Petersburg, FL;  4USGS-Florida Water Center, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 



This USGS Integrated Modeling Project, established in March 2009, merges biologic and hydrologic models to develop tools and products to help resource managers anticipate the projected ecological consequences of rising sea level in coastal south Florida. The project builds on prior USGS models and research in support of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). To develop a realistic suite of predictive models, we are (1) Enhancing an existing hydrologic model to reliably hindcast multi-decadal observed sea level rise (SLR) phenomena; (2) Developing mechanistic models of coastal vegetation change, which help explain how hydrologic changes associated with SLR induces vegetation regime change; (3) Incorporating episodic disturbance events, particularly hurricanes, and estimating their impact on hydrologic and vegetation change models; (4) Integrating vegetation change and hydrologic models to simulate variables for both spatially-explicit population models and models of habitat suitability indices for focal species; and (5) Developing predictive capability for the integrated ecologic-hydrologic models, which incorporates comparative assessments of effects to floral and faunal species under projected restoration, management, and SLR scenarios.  

Mean Sea Level – What are the Recent Changes Along the Texas Gulf Coast?

Sadovski, Alex,; Jeffress, Gary; Tissot, Philippe; Duff, Scott.  

Conrad Blucher Institute for Surveying and Science, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi  


Mean Sea Level is defined By NOAA’s National Ocean Service (NOS) as “The arithmetic mean of hourly heights observed over the National Tidal Datum Epoch (the latest being 1983-2001). Shorter series are specified in the name; e.g. monthly mean sea level and yearly mean sea level.” Where sea level is changing, NOS now computes updated tidal datums, including Mean Sea Level, when a five-year mean varies from the published Epoch value by more that 3 centimeters. Data of monthly mean sea levels provided by 11 Texas Coastal Ocean Observation Network (TCOON) stations have been used to find running averages for 5 years and compare these data to the published Mean Sea Level for each station. Data was also subjected to factor analysis (main components), which demonstrated that there are two main factors explaining variations of the see levels: one could be interpreted as regional and a second factor with significantly less weight could be interpreted as local. The first factor is showing increases with most recent data for 5-year running averages, while the input of the second factor is somewhat steady. Using 4 factors allows consideration of local causes in Mean Sea Level change; the land subsiding at differing rates along the Texas coast may be one explanation of local variations of the mean sea level.  

Sea Level Rise in the Gulf of Mexico:  What Can the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) Do for You?   

Simoniello, Christina1; Swaykos, Joe2; Mitchum, Gary3; Weisberg, Robert W3.; Jeffress, Gary4; Jochens, Ann5  

1Gulf Coast Research Lab, University of Southern Mississippi, Ocean Springs, MS, 39564

2Center of Higher Learning, University of Southern Mississippi, Stennis Space Center, MS, 39529

3College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, FL, 33701

4College of Science and Technology, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX 78412

5Department of Oceanography, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 77843  



The phenomenon of sea-level rise in the Gulf of Mexico is of special concern because many coastal residents live at, or in some cases below, sea level.  With high end estimates into 2100 on the order of 1.5 m, many coastal communities would be inundated.  What, if anything, can be done to mitigate how people and the environment respond?  There are many dimensions to the issue, ranging from historical trends in sea level change to new technologies to drive models that assess the impacts of future change.  Presented here are examples of projected changes in coastal communities based on current estimates of sea-level rise, and the technologies being applied to generate the forecasts.  These include output from numerical models driven by data-rich observation programs, cutting edge data visualization methods, and global ocean estimates from satellite altimetry.

A challenge to implementing innovative management strategies for the Gulf region is aggregating and disseminating information in a way that is meaningful and easily accessible to a variety of stakeholders.  The developing Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association (GCOOS RA), one of eleven RAs of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), can be instrumental in promoting the use of these data.  With 13 IOOS-DMAC-compliant parameters currently available via the GCOOS data portal, the diverse data streams provide the tool with which we can integrate and manage the data and products.  

Sea Level Rise and the Redevelopment of Galveston Island State Park Following Hurricane Ike  


Sipocz, Andrew V.  

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, State Parks Division, 105 San Jacinto St., La Porte, TX, 77571  



The beachside infrastructure and dune field at Galveston Island State Park; Galveston, Texas, were destroyed by Hurricane Ike on September 13, 2008.  The remains of this infrastructure including most paved surfaces have been removed.  High rates of relative sea level rise and subsequent inland migration of the Park’s beach prior to Hurricane Ike had narrowed the dune field to 30’ or less with either hard infrastructure or a natural wetland swale preventing inland dune development.


A park redevelopment goal is to facilitate sand dune recovery both for protection of future park facilities and conservation of the active dune field’s native plant community.  New beach access and camping facilities will therefore need to anticipate sea level rise induced beach and dune migration over an appropriate planning horizon.  Historic aerial photography and elevation survey were used to determine the past extent of active dune fields at the State Park under relatively stable sea level conditions.  Current beach migration rates inland were estimated as well as the expected width of the future dune field at the Park.  These were used to project the beach and active dune field location 50 years from the present.  

Predicting Habitat Change on Ingleside Barrier Strandplains using Available Data:  Lamar Peninsula  

Smith, Elizabeth H. and Rosaleen G. Baluyot. 

Center for Coastal Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, TX, 7812-5866  


The Ingleside barrier strandplain is located in the Texas Coastal Bend.  The peninsulas are connected to the mainland and separated by shallow bays and barrier islands from the Gulf of Mexico.  The peninsulas share a common geologic past and formation, but may exhibit biologic gradients as a result of environmental gradients along the coast (i.e., higher temperatures, lower rainfall, higher evaporation from north to south).  The increase in sea level rise from both eustatic and local subsidence will affect land cover proportions in the upland and aquatic zones.  This study focused on developing a spatial model in GIS that can address those changes in relation to soils and land cover data using Lamar Peninsula, which encompassed all habitat types representative of the barrier strandplain.  By increasing sea level one meter, upland coverage decreased from 72.5% to 35.1%, with a concomitant increase in aquatic habitats.  The peninsula connection to the mainland became inundated, and exhibited the most increase in wetland habitats.  Unvegetated flats and intertidal marshes predominated the landscape.  The palustrine wetlands currently occurring in this area provided the marsh mosaic with areas of lower elevations, which shifted to subtidal submerged vegetation and connective tidal channels.  The upland habitat also shifted from 76% coastal oak woodland to <30%, potentially as a result of reduced upland area, as well as higher storm surge and saltwater intrusion impacts.  These changes will have pronounced impacts on upland and aquatic wildlife, as well as future development on the peninsula.

A Case Study of Galveston, Texas: Measuring, Deciphering and Presenting Information Regarding Local Sea Level Variability  


William Sweet; Chris Zervas; Steve Gill  

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, 1305 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD, 20912  



The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its predecessor organization have been measuring sea level (SL) since the mid-19th century.  Originally in support of charting and marine boundary delineation, long-term data sets, like those recorded since 1908 on Pier 21 and 1957 on Pleasure Pier in Galveston, now quantify SL variability that directly impacts coastal communities.  Observations from the NOAA Galveston stations 1) capture event-driven storm surges and determine their reoccurrence frequencies.  2) The observations define a >0.25 m mean seasonal cycle, highest in September and October coincident to hurricane season, which results from fluctuations in the regional wind field, coastal currents, and water densities.  3) The observations isolate the frequency and magnitude of SL anomalies driven by irregular ocean-atmosphere interactions forcing SL above/below seasonal predictions.  4) The observations track long-term relative SL trends, 6.39 ±0.28 mm/yr at Pier 21 and 6.84 ±0.81 mm/yr at Pleasure Pier, and include a local land subsidence rate.

The backbone of each system is a network of benchmarks that monitor the vertical stability of the observation platform and provide user access to the vertical tidal datums.  The centimeter-level accuracy of the SL measurements transferred onto the benchmarks via geodetic surveys facilitates a local vertical reference frame.  A localized informational picture of inundation related to the SL variability can be construed using the highly accurate (~20 cm) LIDAR topographic data that exists for the Galveston area.  In the face of climate change, deciphering and presenting data concerning local SL variability is imperative for coastal restoration initiatives, emergency preparedness, habitat management and planning of coastal infrastructure.

Sea Level Rise Visualization on the Alabama-Mississippi and Delaware Coastlines 

Turnipseed, D. Phil1; Thatcher, Cindy2; Sempier, Stephen3; Wilson, Scott A.2; Mason, Jr., Robert R.1; Marcy, Douglas4; Burkett, Virginia R.5; Carter, David B.6; Culver, Mary4; Wilson, Jr., K. Van7  

1USGS, 415 National Center, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA 20192; 2USGS, 700 Cajundome Blvd., Lafayette, LA, 70506; 3Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, 703 East Beach Drive, Ocean Springs, MS 39564; 4NOAA-NOS, Coastal Services Center, 2234 South Hobson Avenue, Charleston, SC 29405; 5USGS, 540 North Courthouse Street, Many, LA, 71449; 6Delaware Coastal Programs, DNREC, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19947; 7USGS, 308 South Airport Road, Jackson, MS, 39208



Coastal communities throughout the U.S. are in the initial stages of thinking about, planning, and/or creating climate adaptation plans.  Emergency managers, developers, and the general public need to know the potential impact of a rising sea level and how that phenomenon may influence plans for developing future critical infrastructure and for habitat restoration and conservation.

In late 2008, in response to these critical needs, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in concert with the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and several other Federal, State, and local stakeholders formed a team to create two pilot internet map applications that could effectively project various sea level rise scenarios on the Alabama-Mississippi Gulf of Mexico Coast and the mouth of the Christina River on and Upper Delaware Bay.

The Alabama-Mississippi Gulf of Mexico Coastal pilot Internet Map Server (http://gom.usgs.gov/slr/index.html) was developed from an existing server which was built principally to display the maximum storm tide crest resulting from Hurricane Katrina (2005).  This server quickly and easily projects 1-, 3-, 6-ft sea level rises onto a 3-meter digital elevation model constructed from Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data procured before Hurricane Katrina.

The Delaware River pilot (http://csc-s-web-q.csc.noaa.gov/de_slr/index.html), developed with a similar concept, used a 2-meter horizontal Digital Elevation Model created from State of Delaware LiDAR data to illustrate a hypothetical 4ft. rise in sea level.  Flood frequency estimates were computed based on National Weather Service coastal flood warning criteria to show how these increases in sea level could make daily tidal flooding worse.  

Response of coastal systems to accelerated sea-level rise  


Davin J. Wallace; John B. Anderson  

Dept. Earth Science, Rice University, Houston, TX 77251, USA  


Sea-level rise rates are predicted to exceed 4 mm/yr by the year 2100. Many sea-level rise models rely on inundation scenarios for areas within 1-2 meters elevation (i.e. areas expected to be affected in the next century). However, these models do not take into account complex barrier island dynamics. We argue that these models are not an accurate representation of shoreline response, and should not be used for coastal planning scenarios. Rather, the geologic record coupled with data for the last century can aide in understanding and developing planning strategies. In order to understand how coastal systems will respond to sea level rise (SLR) rates greater than 4 mm/yr, we must go back several millennia. Previous studies have determined that shoreline retreat rates were as high as 60 m/yr from ~10,000-6,000 yr B.P. During this time period, SLR rates ranged from 5-9 mm/yr, and many bays along the Texas coast back-stepped rapidly. Most of the barrier islands along the Texas coast appear to have formed ~5,000 yrs B.P., when the rate of SLR slowed to ~2 mm/yr. However, after their formation, some barriers have remained stable during the same time that others were retreating. Therefore, during rapid SLR scenarios, coastal systems respond quite differently than passively being flooded in place. By understanding how each system has responded in the past during similar sea-level rise rates, we can better plan and predict future coastal change.    

Comparison of Extreme Value Statistical Distributions and Implications for Galveston Pier 21 

Warner, Natalya1; Tissot, Philippe2; Sterba-Boatwright, Blair1; Jeffress, Gary2

1Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Corpus Christi, TX, 78412,; 2Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Conrad Blucher Institute, Corpus Christi , TX 78412 .



Floods are the most common natural disasters affecting societies around the world. The confluence of sea level rise and population growth in coastal regions makes it essential to continue improving flood management strategies. For an efficient planning it is essential to develop accurate flooding estimates which take into account both local effects such as vertical land motion and global effects such as estimated rates of sea level rise linked to climate change. Several extreme value distributions are compared using multiple statistical measures for the modeling of maximum yearly surges. Vertical land motion, broader sea level rise, tidal and atmospheric forcings are considered separately. The surge distribution models are based on the 105 years record of Galveston Pier 21, Texas.

A different statistical distribution than presently used by most researchers and FEMA is selected to estimate flood risk. Exceedance probabilities of past storms are compared after including the influence of past sea level rise. The extreme surge distributions are then combined with sea level rise projections to estimate future water level exceedance probabilities. The research shows that by year 2100 and using the past rate of sea level rise exceedance probabilities could double for large storms such as Hurricane Ike but increase by 5 or even 6 times for smaller storms such as Hurricanes Alicia and Rita. While individually not as devastating or costly as large hurricanes, the cumulative and regular cost of smaller events could well be a bigger threat to coastal communities as sea level rises.

Aquatecture-Architectural Adaptation to Rising Sea Levels

Erica Williams M.Arch, David Fries M.S, Mark Weston M.Arch, Shannon Bassett MA.UD.

University of South Florida, Ecosystems Technology Group- College of Marine Science


Our world is drastically changing. Temperatures are rising, skies over cities are blanketed with smoke, and melting glaciers are raising sea levels at alarming rates. Although the destruction we face is already threatening the quality of life for billions around the world, it could just be the beginning. What is projected to come in the future could be catastrophic. It is crucial to realize that climate change is already happening. One of the main concerns stemming from climate change is that as the polar ice caps continue to melt, rising water will invade our coastal cities around the world. In accordance with sea level projection maps, sea levels will rise 15 feet in some areas, and major cities like Miami, Galveston, Shanghai, Calcutta, and Manhattan will be completely submerged. We must ask ourselves: How can we avoid a mass migration as water levels invade our homes and cities? Instead of retreating inland, adaptation strategies should be devised. This proposal will explore how homes, buildings, and cities should respond to sea level increase through the implementation of a new architectural typology—Aquatecture. Aquatecture is defined as an architectural adaptation typology used to mitigate and manage flooding (long and short term). With this typology, water and architectural design can unite to produce dynamic and reliable mitigation solutions. The main course of action involves redefining three main living systems: a home, a neighborhood, and a residential tower to resist destruction of rising water levels and to continue city-town-home inhabitation. For example, a home that rises along pilings as water levels increase, forming self-sustaining communities with these adaptable homes, and adaptive reuse strategies for existing infrastructures are some adaption strategies to be explored. In addition to adaptable building design, supporting systems will be integrated throughout affected areas. Systems such as alternative energy production (wind turbines, hydro-electric, photovoltaics), alternative farming, mixed-used industry, alternative transportation, and water filtration zones will be incorporated. With the help of Aquatecture, alternatives to abandoning our coastal cities are provided. Due to the flexibility of site location that Aquatecture allows, this intervention can serve as a long-term solution and standard of living within current and projected flood prone areas around the world.

Hydrodynamic Simulation of Sabine Lake and the Surrounding Wetlands – Transient Response to the Changing Sea Level  


Saikiran Yadagiri1; Yang Zhou1; Ning Zhang1  

¹Department of Engineering, McNeese State University, Lake Charles, LA 70609  



Sabine Lake is a 90,000 acre (364 km²) salt water estuary formed by the confluence of the Sabine River and the Neches River. It drains through Sabine Pass into the Gulf of Mexico. The lake borders Jefferson Country, Texas, Orange Country, Texas, and Cameron Parish, Louisiana. The nearby city of Port Arthur is located on the northwest side of the lake. Numerical simulation and analysis of the hydrodynamics and water-component transports in the Sabine Lake and surrounding wetlands is very important for assessing impacts of sea-level rise. The analysis of the results will assist in the development of preservation plans for the wetlands and coastal areas. The simulation software was successfully developed, debugged and tested. The unsteady two-dimensional shallow water equations are the governing equations in this study. The flow, circulation and water surface elevation were investigated in this study. The flooding of the wetlands near the lake due the sea-level rise was also simulated, thanks to the available land elevation data. Since the ocean surface level changes with time, the hydrodynamics of the lake water also changes accordingly. Therefore, fully unsteady simulations are required. From the transient response of water surface elevations in the lake area to the transient tidal conditions of the Gulf of Mexico, we can determine when and where will be flooded, thus the impacts of the sea-level rise on the Sabine Lake and the surrounding coastal wetlands.

Mangrove ecosystem vulnerability to climate chance effect in Yucatan Peninsula (carbonate settings), SE Mexico  


Zaldivar-Jiménez, M. Arturo1,2; Herrera-Silveira, Jorge A.1,2; Teutli-Hernández, Claudia1; Rivera-Monroy, Victor H.3; Coronado-Molina, Carlos 4; Hernández-Saavedra, Raquel 5, Caamal-Sosa, Juan P.; Perez-Ceballos, Rosela 1

 1CINVESTAV-IPN, Unidad Merida, Km 6 Ant. Carr. a Progreso, Merida Yucatan, Mexico.

2United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

3Louisiana State University.

4South Florida Water Management District - Everglades Division.

5Estación de Investigación Oceanográfica de Progreso, Secretaria de Marina.  


The coast of Yucatan Peninsula is characterized by semi-arid climate, hurricanes impacts, low tide, groundwater discharges and carbonate soil. This last condition limits the sediments source to mangrove forest and increases their vulnerability to the sea level rise. Permanent forest plot, SET bases and press level logger were installing in several sites in Yucatan Peninsula as part a long-term monitoring program. Our research is focused in the analysis of the potential effects of climate change on the Yucatan mangroves in relation with the environmental and hydrogeological characteristics of these region and the anthropic factors that impact these coastal ecosystems. Results showed in site with strong influence of groundwater discharges (springs), the mangrove forest had the highest structure value (complexity index =17) and litterfall production (16 t ha/yr). Vertical accretions show spatial pattern from 3.9 mm/yr to 1.0 mm/yr while the elevation varied from 5.3 mm/yr to -2.8 mm/yr according to wet or dry scenarios. The spatial differences are related with local forcing function as organic matter production, porewater storage and sediment type, as well as regional variables as erosion/deposition by storms and hurricanes.  

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