State-of-the-Art Projections to Support Sea Level Rise Decisions in North Carolina
The threat of sea level rise and storminess poses many management challenges in North Carolina due to low elevation, extensive barrier islands and vulnerability to coastal storms. The long-term North Carolina Sea Level Rise Project, part of the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science’s Ecological Effects of Sea Level Rise (EESLR) program, has developed modeling and mapping tools to assess and predict patterns of estuarine response to sea level rise, inundation, storm surge, accretion, shoreline erosion, and marsh loss across a large area of the low-lying North Carolina coastal region. A follow-on study is converting research results to maps and geospatial data for decision-making and communications as identified by local coastal managers, planners, policy-makers, and restoration project leaders with potential use by NC Department of Natural Resources and the Town of Plymouth.
Following the initial research phase and this transition to application project, a consortium of partners, including The Nature Conservancy and the Albermarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program, will provide ongoing operational support to update the maps and data in a one-stop “North Carolina Coastal Atlas” digital portal. This will ensure that the results of the project continue to be used to support scientifically sound decisions by coastal managers faced with long-term decisions impacted by sea level rise.