Sea-level rise modeling handbook: Resource guide for coastal land managers, engineers, and scientists

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Global sea level is rising and may accelerate with continued fossil fuel consumption from industrial and population growth. In 2012, the U.S. Geological Survey conducted more than 30 training and feedback sessions with Federal, State, and nongovernmental organization (NGO) coastal managers and planners across the northern Gulf of Mexico coast to evaluate user needs, potential benefits, current scientific understanding, and utilization of resource aids and modeling tools focused on sea-level rise. In response to the findings from the sessions, this sea-level rise modeling handbook has been designed as a guide to the science and simulation models for understanding the dynamics and impacts of sea-level rise on coastal ecosystems. The review herein of decision-support tools and predictive models was compiled from the training sessions, from online research, and from publications. The purpose of this guide is to describe and categorize the suite of data, methods, and models and their design, structure, and application for hindcasting and forecasting the potential impacts of sea-level rise in coastal ecosystems. The data and models cover a broad spectrum of disciplines involving different designs and scales of spatial and temporal complexity for predicting environmental change and ecosystem response. These data and models have not heretofore been synthesized, nor have appraisals been made of their utility or limitations. Some models are demonstration tools for non-experts, whereas others require more expert capacity to apply for any given park, refuge, or regional application. A simplified tabular context has been developed to list and contrast a host of decision-support tools and models from the ecological, geological, and hydrological perspectives. Criteria were established to distinguish the source, scale, and quality of information input and geographic datasets; physical and biological constraints and relations; datum characteristics of water and land components; utility options for setting sea-level rise and climate change scenarios; and ease or difficulty of storing, displaying, or interpreting model output. Coastal land managers, engineers, and scientists can benefit from this synthesis of tools and models that have been developed for projecting causes and consequences of sea-level change on the landscape and seascape.

Document Type: 

  • Report


  • critical issues, database publication, coastal systems, coasts, climate, united states