Tybee Island Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan

Jason M. Evans, Jill Gambill, Robin J. McDowell, P. Warwick Prichard, and Charles S. Hopkinson
Posted on: 1/31/2020 - Updated on: 1/31/2020

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Through an award provided by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program, the City of Tybee Island partnered with researchers and outreach professionals from Georgia Sea Grant, the University of Georgia, and Stetson University to develop this sea-level rise adaptation plan. Using a participatory approach, this project assessed how coastal flooding risks in the City of Tybee Island are being exacerbated by sea-level rise and also explored potential adaptation actions for making the city more resilient over time.

Sea Level Rise Impacts 

Long-term data from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (noaa) tide gauge at Fort Pulaski, located within a few miles of Tybee Island, document 10 inches of local sea-level rise since 1935. This study summarizes and documents several ways in which the City of Tybee Island is already being impacted by rising seas. 

The most visible of these impacts include:

  • More frequent closures of US Highway 80, the sole road access connecting the City of Tybee Island to mainland Chatham County, due to periodic tidal flooding.
  • Tidal backup of stormwater drainage systems in low-lying areas of Tybee Island, resulting in periodic saltwater flooding of neighborhood roads and yards.
  • Increased coastal erosion, particularly on Tybee Island’s Atlantic beaches.

Adaptation Options 

Project researchers worked with citizens and public officials to identify a series of five adaptation actions for their potential to make the City of Tybee Island more resilient to sea-level rise and coastal flooding. While it is acknowledged that other kinds of sea-level rise adaptation approaches may be required in the future, identification and consideration of these five actions is regarded as an initial step for long-term sea-level rise planning.

Elevating Well Pump Houses

The City of Tybee Island utilizes three well pump houses for public water supply from the Upper Floridan Aquifer. Two of these well pump houses, one located on Butler Ave. and one located on 14th St., show high risk of damages from coastal flooding. A third well pump house, located at Van Horne Ave., is located on relatively high ground with less coastal flooding risk.


Adaptation Phase
Sector Addressed
Target Climate Changes and Impacts