Lighthouse Stabilization Design Incorporates Sea Level Rise, Fort Pulaski National Monument, Georgia

Mike Eissenberg
Posted on: 11/25/2015 - Updated on: 2/28/2020

Posted by

Rachel Gregg

Project Summary

The goal of this project was to develop a plan to stabilize a historic lighthouse at Fort Pulaski National Monument in a way that considered expected sea level rise and related impacts.


The historic revetment around the Cockspur Lighthouse has eroded away in the past 30 years, and a portion of the original wooden foundation has been exposed to shipworm damage. Ongoing erosion around the revetment has led to concern about the possibility of severe structural damage in the next few years. 

To stabilize the lighthouse, the park needed to design a structure that can withstand sea level rise over the next 20 years and related impacts such as increased wave heights. 


The revetment will be modified to protect against sea level rise over the next 20 years assuming that the current rate of rise will continue. The modification will be constructed to allow for future adaptation to accommodate faster rates of rise. Project design would be improved by development of a reproducible process that could estimate local sea level rise qualitatively or quantitatively, incorporating contemporary science and evaluating risks. 

This and other projects would benefit from identifying appropriate climate change issues that should be addressed as part of the project development process. A predictable and transparent process for addressing climate-related impacts would minimize surprises and modifications to project design, and would improve the effectiveness of dialogue among stakeholders. 

Outcomes and Conclusions

To improve understanding of current and future sea level rise, the park has identified global sea level rise projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, historic rates calculated by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, and trends in local water level monitoring data collected at the park. 


This case study is part of the 2015 National Park Service report, Coastal Adaptation Strategies: Case Studies. These case studies initially were developed by park managers as part of a NPS-led coastal adaptation training in May 2012. The case studies follow the format created for EcoAdapt’s Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE) database, including a list of adaptation strategies. All case studies were updated and modified in September 2013 and March 2015 in response to a growing number of requests from coastal parks and other coastal management agencies looking for examples of climate change adaptation strategies for natural and cultural resources and assets along their ocean, lacustrine, and riverine coasts.


Eissenberg, M. (2015). Lighthouse Stabilization Design Incorporates Sea Level Rise, Fort Pulaski National Monument, Georgia [Case study on a project of Fort Pulaski National Monument]. Excerpted from Schupp, C.A., R.L. Beavers, and M.A. Caffrey [eds.]. 2015. Coastal Adaptation Strategies: Case Studies. NPS 999/129700. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado. Retrieved from CAKE:…;(Last updated November 2015)

Affiliated Organizations

For much of the 19th century, masonry fortifications were the United States’ main defense against overseas enemies. However, during the Civil War, new technology proved its superiority to these forts. The Union army used rifled cannon and compelled the Confederate garrison inside Fort Pulaski to surrender. The siege was a landmark experiment in the history of military science and invention.

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