Posted by: Peter Black | April 21, 2008

The sea will be rising. Are you prepared?

A lot has been made of sea level rise in the media. Countless people have made cool looking maps demonstrating how a rising ocean (and subsequent and inevitable storm surges) can completely mess with an area. But has anyone looked at New Jersey? I’ve made the best possible quality (at this scale) maps using 10 meter Digital Elevation Models graciously provided by the USGS. Since the EPA can’t, or won’t, release its data to the public, this ongoing series may be the best substitute. I hope to add a state every few weeks or so, until there’s a full US coastline set of google maps.

The timeline on sea level rise varies depending upon who you talk to. The consensus at the moment seems to be a 1 foot rise by 2040, a 3 foot rise by end of century. The catastrophic melting of the ice caps is further into the future, so keep in mind that the maps represent changes in sea level in space as well as time.
Since there are errors in the original elevation data, a HUGE caveat for these maps is that they only show general areas that are at risk to a rising sea and of course storm surge. Please do not make life changing decisions based SOLELY upon this information.

new jersey sea level rise scenarios



  1. Even though what the maps show does not seem threatening to me right now,here in California, they remind me that I spent a great deal of time at the New Jersey shore. The “shore” is a beautiful line of beaches which will disappear as the levels of the waters rise. There go all of the $1million ++ homes that sit right on the beach. How oh how will FEMA deal with that???

  2. FEMA will deal with that just fine. There are million dollar homes on the Jersey shore so these are people that ‘matter’…

    Update: I just received the complete EPA sea level rise database today after a year and a half of trying. I guess they’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak. Regardless, the data ain’t great: it is based upon 250k USGS DEMs which are far less accurate (but nonetheless easier to deal with) than the 10m DEMs I’ve been piecing together. I’ll probably use the EPA data in places where I can’t get better accuracy.

  3. I did the same with the DTED0 data for the UK, you can see the results and download a utility to generate UK maps from my blog entry.

    If anyone wants the C source, drop me a mail on andrew at trailgauge dot com.

  4. hello,

    I am an 8th grade Science teacher in Boston, looking for a map of the impact of rising sea levels here, so I can help my 8th graders see that climate change might well affect them/theri families. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thank you!

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