For the more information about the geologic resources of the National Park Service, please visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/.


Sea Level Rise

Low lying coastal areas like Ocean Beach, in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, will be threatened by flooding and erosion as sea level rises (NPS photo).
Low lying coastal areas like Ocean Beach, in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, will be threatened by flooding and erosion as sea level rises (NPS photo).

Among the climate phenomena that affect coastal parks, sea level rise has already emerged as a critical driver of change, particularly along low-lying coastal barrier islands and mainland shorelines. In concert with wind, waves, and currents, sea level rise is triggering significant changes in the distribution and morphology of important coastal landforms and habitats. Sea level rise is also a concern for rocky shorelines, where increasing water levels can permanently flood or isolate critical habitats. Rising seas are also causing saltwater contamination of coastal groundwater and surface waters, and exacerbating the impacts of coastal storms.

Because sea level rise is affecting coastal parks along the shores of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico in diverse ways, many NPS units are investing significant resources into research and monitoring to better understand sea level rise impacts and incorporate this information in planning and decision making. These include national seashores at Assateague Island, Fire Island, and Cape Cod, urban parks such as Golden Gate and Gateway National Recreational Areas, and parks such as Kaloko-Konokohau and Kenai Fjords.


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Last Updated: August 15, 2011