A National Ocean Enterprise is required to address the impacts of sea level rise on the entire Nation’s coast.

There is little debate that sea levels are rising globally and that the consequences will be significant. Entire coastal region populations will be displaced and small island nations are at risk of disappearing. The Hampton Roads community in Virginia has one of the highest rates of relative sea level rise in the United States, in part due to local land subsidence. The impact upon Hampton Roads has already been substantial because of the abundant infrastructure built on coastal lowlands. While there is much variability in predictions, the consensus indicates that sea levels will continue to rise at present or greater rates. The socioeconomic implications of this rise will certainly affect the entire regional population, and adjacent coastal areas face similar challenges. A rising tide may float all boats but it also floods all coasts.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that this change is so gradual. At a rate of roughly four millimeters per year in Hampton Roads, it hardly seems to be a problem at all. The effects are only noticed during extreme events, when areas that have never before flooded are found underwater. Proactive steps are needed, but funding normally is not forthcoming until after the storm’s damage has occurred! Refinement of the predictions for sea level rise in coastal areas, assessment of the implied impacts that could result from such rise (especially during concomitant severe weather conditions), and coordination of the public and private response required to ameliorate the impacts is crucial to the future of our coastal communities and their infrastructure.

Papers addressing all aspects of sea level change are welcomed, and are not limited to the Hampton Roads region. Potential topics include:

  • New water level monitoring technologies
  • Sea level trends, anomalies and decadal change
  • Coastal inundation mapping
  • Total water level modeling activities
  • Incorporation of ocean wave effects in coastal impact forecasts and analyses
  • Observing & communicating storm surge risk
  • Assessing impact on commerce ™
  • Military impact and response
  • Tourism and beach nourishment
  • Implications for public health
  • Innovative community solutions
  • Historic water levels and related geology
  • Tsunamis
  • Flood insurance considerations
  • FEMA planning
  • Local, State, and Federal government building code adaptation
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