Murdukhayeva, A.; August, P.; Bradley, M.; LaBash, C., and Shaw, N., 2013. Assessment of inundation risk from sea level rise and storm surge in northeastern coastal national parks.
Sea level rise and an increase in storm frequency and intensity are two major impacts expected to result from climate change in coastal ecosystems. Coastal national parks have many low-lying areas that are at risk from inundation resulting from these impacts. To help park managers meet their goal of preserving resources, we developed a methodology to evaluate risk of inundation from sea level rise and storm surge at sentinel sites, areas of importance for natural, cultural, and infrastructural resources. We selected the most recent, readily available, and appropriate geospatial tools, models, and data sets to conduct case studies of our coastal inundation risk assessments in two northeastern coastal national parks—Cape Cod National Seashore, MA, and Assateague Island National Seashore, MD/VA. We collected elevation data at sentinel sites using real-time kinematic global positioning system (RTK GPS) technology. We used three modeling approaches: modified bathtub modeling; the Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM); and the Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model to assess the likelihood of inundation at sentinel sites. Cape Cod's sentinel sites, which in many cases occurred in high-elevation settings, were found to be less vulnerable to inundation than were Assateague Island's sentinel sites, which were distributed in low-lying areas along the barrier beach island. This inundation risk assessment methodology can be applied to other coastal areas and to the same coastal parks at different times as more accurate elevation data sets and updated sea level rise projections become available.