The potential impacts of sea level rise on the coastal region of New Jersey, USA

Matthew J.P. Cooper, Michael D. Beevers, Michael Oppenheimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


This study presents an assessment of the potential impacts of sea level rise on the New Jersey, USA coastal region. We produce two projections of sea level rise for the New Jersey coast over the next century and apply them to a digital elevation model to illustrate the extent to which coastal areas are susceptible to permanent inundation and episodic flooding due to storm events. We estimate future coastline displacement and its consequences based on direct inundation only, which provides a lower bound on total coastline displacement. The objective of this study is to illustrate methodologies that may prove useful to policy makers despite the large uncertainties inherent in analysis of local impacts of climate and sea level change. Our findings suggest that approximately 1% to 3% of the land area of New Jersey would be permanently inundated over the next century and coastal storms would temporarily flood low-lying areas up to 20 times more frequently. Thus, absent human adaptation, by 2100 New Jersey would experience substantial land loss and alteration of the coastal zone, causing widespread impacts on coastal development and ecosystems. Given the results, we identify future research needs and suggest that an important next step would be for policy makers to explore potential adaptation strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-492
Number of pages18
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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