Sea Level Rise and Storm Surge Projections for the National Park Service

Maria A. Caffrey, Cat Hawkins Hoffman
Created: 9/26/2018 -


Over one quarter of the units of the National Park System occur along ocean coastlines. Ongoing changes in relative sea levels and the potential for increasing storm surges due to anthropogenic climate change and other factors present challenges to national park managers. This report summarizes work done by the University of Colorado in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) to provide sea level rise and storm surge projections to coastal area national parks using information from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and storm surge scenarios from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) models. 

These results are intended to inform park planning and adaptation strategies for resources managed by the National Park Service. Sea level change and storm surge pose considerable risks to infrastructure, archeological sites, lighthouses, forts, and other historic structures in coastal units of the national park system. Understanding projections for continued change can better guide protection of such resources for the benefit of long-term visitor enjoyment and safety. 


Sector Addressed
Land Use Planning
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Incorporate future conditions into natural resources planning and policies
Capacity Building
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Governance and Policy
Develop / implement adaptation plans
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Sea level rise
Habitat/Biome Type
United States