Guide Helps Communities Plan for Rising Seas

Jul 11, 2022

According to the 2022 Sea Level Rise Technical Report, sea levels are projected to rise a foot, on average, along our nation’s coasts by 2050; that’s on par with what the country experienced in the previous century. Every community will experience and react to these rising waters differently, and thanks to a new Application Guide, they have the tools they need to apply information in the Report to meet their needs.

Informed by the experience and insights of NOAA partnerships like Reserve Coastal Training Programs, the Guide is designed to help decision makers and coastal professionals connect the science in the Report to meet local needs. It helps them advance coastal resilience on their own terms, providing resources so they can plan for and adapt to future risks in ways that work for them.

“In Coastal Training Programs across the System, we’ve learned that it’s not enough to provide science and data,” says Lisa Auermuller, assistant director of New Jersey’s Jacques Cousteau Reserve and co-author of the Report. “You have to meet communities where they are and build bridges between their experiences and goals and what the science tells us.”

Walking across those bridges often requires communities to consider a complex, often confusing, array of place-based sociocultural, economic, policy, physical, and ecological factors as they plan for rising seas. The Guide breaks this complexity down, helping users understand where to start the process and providing specific, regional examples, of how the Report can be used to address the uncertainty in the amount and timing of future sea level rise when making decisions.

“Although we may not know exactly how much sea level will rise in the future, we know it is rising,” says Auermuller. “Now is the time to put that knowledge into action. The Application Guide helps coastal decision makers figure out their next steps.”

NERRA is proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Coastal Zone Management Act—the legislation that led to the creation of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. Want more Reserve stories delivered to your inbox? Subscribe to our newsletter.

ReservesJacques Cousteau, New JerseyGuide Helps Communities Plan for Rising Seas