The visualization on the homepage of this site is based on elevation data derived from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topo Mission and is broadly in line with sophisticated sea level rise flooding models developed by the NOAA Office for Coastal Management.
50-Year Sea Level Rise in Newport’s Historic Point Neighborhood
According to accepted climate science, sea levels have risen nearly 10 inches in Rhode Island since 1930, and are expected to rise by as much as 3 feet over the next 50 years (RICRMC). In 2010, 39% of the US population lived in coastal counties, which comprises less than 10% of the US land area (excluding Alaska) (NOAA). Many of these places are seeing an increase in tidal flooding, heavy downpours, and named storms, which increases the stress on aging infrastructure and historic properties in coastal communities.
It’s logical that sea level rise will cause flooding to property located directly on the shorelines, and this would be correct; what is not as straightforward is the fact that the increase in sea level causes groundwater levels to rise as well (as illustrated in this animation). This rise increases the possibility of groundwater seepage into underground infrastructure as well as into basements (Bjerlkie 2012).
During a high tide in the Point neighborhood, the storm drains are nearly full in low lying areas, and one can assume that the level of groundwater also increases. If there is a small rain event occurring in tandem with the high tide, there is literally nowhere for the water to go except in the streets and basements.
citation | Bjerklie, David M., John R. Mullaney, Janet R. Stone, Brian J. Skinner, and Matthew A. Ramlow. “Preliminary Investigation of the Effects of Sea-Level Rise on Groundwater Levels in New Haven, Connecticut.” USGS Publications Warehouse. 2012. Accessed October 29, 2015.
Technical Details & Assumptions
The specifics of any particular coastal flooding event is a complex interrelationship between wind, rain and tide and multiple scenarios are possible.
More information can be found at:
Shuttle Radar Topo Mission
NOAA Office for Coastal Management
The Surging Seas section of Climate Central
About Markley Boyer
Markley Boyer is a cartographer and artist working on an array of projects loosely grouped around an interest in topography. He illustrated the book Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City.
You Tube Video
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