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EPA's Bush-era sea level rise study, part 1.

Background Documents Supporting Climate Change Science Program Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.1. Chapter 1: Coastal Elevations

Edited by James G. Titus and Elizabeth M. Strange. 2008. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA 430-R-07-004.

Elevation is the most important factor determining vulnerability to sea level rise. But assessments of sea level rise have long been confronted by the challenge that the contour interval of most topographic maps was greater than the expected rise in sea level over the nexxt several decades.

This study is based on best available data, which included very accurate data for a few locations but mostly relied on the traditional USGS and local elevation data with 5-foot or 10-foot contours. Unlike previous assessments, however, we estimate the uncertainty of our results based on the design uncertainty of the input map data. Moreover, we also use NOAA tide data to estimate the elevation of the mean high water shoreline on our maps. (Previous efforts by USGS, by contrast, assumed that all shorelines have an elevation of 1 foot (if the map is measured in feet) or 0.1 meter (if the map is measured in meters).

If you are more interested in the results than study methods, you may prefer to examine the coastal elevation maps or tables that quantify the area of land close to sea level. We also have maps that compare the area of wetlands to the area of lowland available for wetland migration (ignoring the issue of shore protection). If you are mildly interested in how the study was conducted, you may also want to see the maps that show tides and water level elevations and the quality of data sources (JPG 1.2 MB), as well as the drawing that shows the relationship between sea level, tides, wetlands, and reference elevations.

Chapter 1: Coastal Elevations in the Mid-Atlantic

Maps of Lands Close to Sea Level along the Mid-Atlantic (PDF) (44 pp., 2,150 KB) by J. G. Titus and J. Wang – A coastal elevation data set for the Mid-Atlantic for purposes of assessing the potential for coastal lands to be inundated by rising sea level. State and county elevation maps

Interpolating Elevations (PDF) (23 pp., 820 KB) by R. Jones and J. Wang – Methods used to quantify the area of land close to sea level.

Uncertainty Ranges (PDF) (66 pp., 962 KB) by J. G. Titus and D. Cacela – Uncertainty ranges for estimates of the amount of land close to sea level.

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