September, 13 th 2007

Course: UEP 237 – GIS for Urban and Environmental Analysis

Professor: Barbara Parmenter Student Name: Flavia Resende


First Assignment: GIS Project Examples in your Area of Interest


Name of the Project: “Maps of lands vulnerable to sea level rise: modeled elevations along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coasts

Researchers: James G. Titus & Charlie Richman

Institution: US Environmental Protection Agency ( US EPA)



I became interested in this GIS project mainly because it shows how some areas in the United States could be flooded in case the sea level rises in some States located in the coast. In fact, part of my interest was because those studies probably require a significant amount of information that would be possibly not found in developing countries. And consequently, cities located in coastal areas in developing countries will be probably less prepared to face flood disasters caused by global warming in the future.



The authors of the study are managers of the Office of Atmospheric Programs within the US EPA and this was published in 2001 by the peer-reviewed journal Climate Research. The study looked at the sea level rises in the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts and mapped the lands that are below the 1.5 and 3.5 meters contours. 20 US states were analyzed, including Alabama , Connecticut , District of Columbia , Delaware , Florida , Georgia , Louisiana , Massachusetts , Maryland , Maine , New Hampshire , Mississippi , North Carolina , New Jersey , New York , Pennsylvania , Rhode Island , South Carolina , Texas and Virginia . The main reason to produce such maps was to increase public awareness regarding possible sea level rising. The impacts of sea level rising impact were already being expressed as a concern by policy makers and a graphical representation would be the key information to advocate for anti-flooding and inundation policies.


Methodology and data:

Authors used Digital Elevation Models (DEM) from the US Geological Survey (USGS) 1° digital elevation series and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, 1999) shoreline data. The authors also compared the results with the EPA Report to Congress done in 1989.



Based on data mentioned above, the authors produced the maps shown below (Figures 1 and 2) and the Table 1, extracted from the study. According to the maps, approximately 58,000 km of land lies below the 1.5 meters.


Figures 1 and 2: US Atlantic and Gulf coasts lands close to sea level (1 mile~1.6 km).


The Table 1 below summarizes all data collected during the study regarding areas of land with different elevations in all the 20 States studied. .


Table 1: Amounts (km2) of low land implied by various map data sets.

Besides, the results also indicated that Louisiana , Florida , Texas , and North Carolina account for more than 80% of the low land. Outside of those 4 states, the largest vulnerable populated region is the land along the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay stretching from Dorchester County , Maryland , to Accomac County , Virginia .


Reference: Tituts, J. G. & Richman, C. (2001). Maps of lands vulnerable to sea level rise: modeled elevations along the US Atlantic And Gulf Coasts. Climate Research. Vol 18: 205-228.