GIS Modeling and Simulation of Sea Level Rise Scenarios

M.M. Snow and R.K. Snow (USA)


Earth system modeling, global warming, GIS, sea level rise, 3-D visualization


Global mean sea level is projected to increase by approximately 0.5 meters within the next century. The results of this rise could include the substantial erosion of shorelines, saltwater intrusion into aquifers and estuaries, increased fluctuation of tides in bays and rivers, microbiological and chemical contamination in coastal areas, and the amplified intensity and frequency of coastal inundation. The recent tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia reinforces the importance of visualizing the scenarios that could occur as a result of rising seas. Innovative modeling techniques that could be efficiently incorporated into environmental and economic planning would be useful. A Geographic Information System (GIS) that can create, analyze, and display sea level rise scenarios would help local officials address the negative effects of elevated sea levels by allowing them to identify communities that are at risk, assess the situation, and develop mitigation strategies. This paper discusses the issue of rising sea levels at the global and regional scale and illustrates the necessity for public comprehension and involvement. GIS is demonstrated as a means of modeling and disseminating information with the expectation that coastal communities will profit by joining in a process to integrate this knowledge into broad based environmental decision making.

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