Potential impacts of sea-level rise on the Mid- and Upper-Atlantic Region of the United States
We made projections of relative sea-level rise, horizontal inundation, and the associated impacts on people and infrastructure in the coastal portion of the Mid- and Upper-Atlantic Region (MUAR) of the United States. The output of five global climate models (GCMs) run under two greenhouse gas scenarios was used in combination with tide gauge observations to project sea-level increases ranging from 200 to 900 mm by 2100, depending on location, GCM and scenario. The range mainly reflects equal contributions of spatial variability (due to subsidence) and GCM uncertainty, with a smaller fraction of the range due to scenario uncertainty. We evaluated 30-m Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) using 10-m DEMs and LIDAR data at five locations in the MUAR. We found average RMS differences of 0.3 m with the 10-m DEMs and 1.2 m with the LIDAR data, much lower than the reported mean RMS errors of 7 m for the 30-m DEMs. Using the 30-m DEMs, the GCM- and scenario-means of projected sea-level rise, and local subsidence estimates, we estimated a total inundation of 2,600 km2 for the MUAR by 2100. Inundation area increases to 3,800 km2 at high tide if we incorporate local tidal ranges in the analysis. About 510,000 people and 1,000 km of road lie within this area. Inundation area per length of coastline generally increases to south, where relative sea-level rise is greater and relief is smaller. More economically developed states, such as New York and New Jersey, have the largest number of people and infrastructure exposed to risk of inundation due to sea-level rise.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Bureau of the Census (2005) 2005 statistical abstract of the United States. US Bureau of the Census. Washington, DC. http://www.census.gov/prod/www/statistical-abstract-2001_2005.html
- Church JA, Gregory JM, Huybrechts P, Kuhn M, Lambeck K, Nhuan MT, Qin D, Woodworth PL (2001) Chapter 11: changes in sea level. In: Houghton JT et al (eds) Climate change 2001: the scientific basis. Cambridge University Press, New York, pp 639–694Google Scholar
- Davis GH (1987) Land subsidence and sea level rise on the Atlantic Coastal Plain of the United States. Environ Geol 10(2):67–80Google Scholar
- McInnes KL, Walsh KJE, Hubbert GD, Beer T (2003) Impact of sea-level rise and storm surges on a coastal community. Nat Hazards 30(2):187–207Google Scholar
- Mclean RF, Tsyban A, Burkett V, Codignotto JO, Forbes DL, Mimura N, Beamish RJ, Ittekkot V (2001) Chapter 6: coastal zones and marine ecosystems. In: McCarthy JJ et al (eds) Climate change 2001: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Cambridge University Press, New York, pp 343–379Google Scholar
- Meehl GA, Stocker TF, Collins WD, Friedlingstein P, Gaye AT, Gregory JM, Kitoh A, Knutti R, Murphy JM, Noda A, Raper SCB, Watterson IG, Weaver AJ, Zhao ZC (2007) Global climate projections. In: Solomon et al (eds) (2007) Climate Change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USAGoogle Scholar
- Najjar RG, Walker HA, Anderson PJ, Barron EJ, Bord R, Gibson J, Kennedy VS, Knight CG, Megonigal P, O’Connor R, Polsky CD, Psuty NP, Richards B, Sorenson LG, Steele E, Swanson RS (2000) The potential impacts of climate change on the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Region. Clim Res 14:219–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Najjar RG, Patterson L, Graham S (2008) Climate simulations of major estuarine watersheds in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Climatic Change (in press)Google Scholar
- Nakićenović N, Swart R (2000) Special report on emissions scenarios. In: A special report of working group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 599 ppGoogle Scholar
- NPA Data Services, Inc (1998) Regional economic projections series. NPA Data Services, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
- Shorr N, Najjar RG, Amato A, Graham S (2008) Climate change impacts on household heating and cooling in the Northeast US compared to those of purposive behaviors. Climate Research (in press)Google Scholar
- US Geological Survey (1992) National land cover data set 1992. Distributed at http://seamless.usgs.gov
- Zervas C (2001) Sea level variations of the United States 1854–1999. NOAA Technical Report NOS CO-OPS 36Google Scholar