Sea Level Trends Updated Throughout Coastal US

Sea level rise is one of the largest climate-related threats facing our coastal communities. Scientists and engineers at NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) are analyzing water level data from a vast network of tide gauges to better understand these trends.

Recently, Lynker team member, Steve Simon, worked with colleagues at CO-OPS to update their Sea Level Trends website. Steve calculated new relative sea level (RSL) trends for CO-OPS’s long-term water level stations (each with approximately 30 years of observations) throughout the coastal U.S, including trends for a new city: Panama City Beach, Florida. These RSL trends are calculated with respect to a local fixed space on land and combine sea level rise and local vertical land motion. This provides important detailed information at how much the sea level rises at a specific coastal location. The resulting map shows that a majority of gauges experienced an increase in sea level trends in 2019.

Steve’s calculated RSL trends were shared with the Environmental Protection Agency for use as one of their Climate Change indicators. While these trends allude to the challenges of accurately projecting coastal sea levels in an ever-changing global climate, they also yield promising implications regarding how U.S. coastal regions can better approach the uncertainties that come with climate change.