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article imageResearchers launch web-based sea level report cards

By Karen Graham     Mar 13, 2018 in Science
Researchers are launching new web-based 'report cards' to monitor and forecast changes in sea level at 32 localities along the U.S. coastline from Maine to Alaska. The report cards will be updated each year, with projections out to the year 2050.
In our warming world, sea level rise is now well documented, but how much and how fast some areas will be impacted depends on several factors. This includes local and regional variations - like groundwater extraction rates, shifts in tectonic plates and land subsidence, to ocean currents and winds.
Researchers at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science are launching a web-based "report card" to monitor and forecast sea level changes at 32 localities along the U.S. coastline from Maine to Alaska. The report cards will be updated annually in January and will include projections out to the year 2050.
The lead on the project, VIMS emeritus professor John Boon, says the report cards are designed to add value by providing sea-level updates that are more frequent and localized than those generated by NOAA or other scientific bodies, according to a press release.
Norfolk  Virginia was hit by a nor easter on Jan. 27-28  1998. Gale force winds pushed the tides 7.0...
Norfolk, Virginia was hit by a nor'easter on Jan. 27-28, 1998. Gale force winds pushed the tides 7.0 feet above Mean Low Water at Norfolk and resulted in moderate to severe flooding.
The report cards will be more specific for a region, making the information more valuable for coastal residents, businesses, and government agencies. Researchers collected historical data going back over 50 years from 32 federal tidal gauges scattered along the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf and Alaskan coasts. Along with statistical modeling and real-time data, a relevant report on a particular area was generated.
Says Boon, "Our report cards show what sea level has been doing recently, what's happening now at your locality. Numerous studies show that local rates of sea-level rise and acceleration differ substantially from the global rates published by the IPCC and NOAA -- a key result because local rates of relative sea-level rise give a direct indication of the extent to which homes, buildings, and roads are at risk of flooding."
The Sea Level Report Card
The report card website,, explains the data and statistical approaches used in the 2050 projections.
VIMS' Sea-Level Report Cards have three components: the projection of sea-level height to the year 2050, a display of recent trends in the rates of sea-level change, and an explanation of processes affecting sea level at each locality.
On March 9, Digital Journal reported on a study that showed major portions of California's San Francisco Bay’s shoreline are sinking faster than the sea is rising, dooming several key areas to being inundated in the future.
VIMS report card for San Francisco  California
VIMS report card for San Francisco, California
VIMS report card
Norfolk, Virginia, home to the nation's largest naval station has been in the news recently as one of the military bases at risk from climate change.For several years, the Tidewater region, as Virginia's coastal area is called, has been hit with flooding from storms, higher-than-normal tides, and land subsidence problems.
Tangier Island, located in the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, with many of its residents' direct descendants of the original settlers who discovered the island in 1608, is also disappearing due to sea level rise and the eroding of its shoreline. On June 9, after watching a CNN special on the island, President Trump made it a point to telephone the island's mayor, assuring him that sea level rise was nothing to worry about.
Here is the VIMS report card for the Norfolk area, that includes Tangier Island and the Norfolk Naval Base. Based on what they’re finding there, and looking at data going back to 1969, researchers project a rise of 1 ½ to 2 feet by 2050.
VIMS Report Card for Norfolk  Virginia
VIMS Report Card for Norfolk, Virginia
VIMS Report Card
More about Sea level rise, data and statistics, variations, US coastal cities, annual report card
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