Online Mapping Tool Provides Sea Level Data

Playa_curinancoAll U.S. coastal communities across the nation will soon be able to search their ZIP code for the potential risks of rising sea levels. Surging Seas is an online mapping tool currently covering New York, New Jersey, Florida and New England. It shows the expected rise in sea level for each area. Pacific states will be included later this spring and the rest of the coastal U.S. by end of summer 2014. “Rising seas are posing a totally new challenge to American ingenuity,” says Ben Strauss, vice president for climate impacts at Climate Central, a non-profit group based in Princeton, N.J. that used private foundation funding to create the Surging Seas database.

As an agrometeorologist, Zintro expert Somnath Choudhury studies the impact of weather on agriculture. “It is necessary to analyze the regional climate changes individually for better planning of agriculture as there are other factors that are also responsible for such climate changes/fluctuations. Usually the climate of any place is assessed on a macro-regional scale. It is necessary to study the regional climate changes in view of the global changes that influence the agriculture in a given region like a district. Attempts have been made to study the regional climate changes in many places which directly affect the crops and influence the varietal selection, as well as the cropping sequence, in case water is available for irrigation purposes.”

Zintro expert Silvia Lac is a forestry/environmental consultant. “Climate change models have been developed for decades, and are well-developed for North America from a number of international agencies. Our research on predictions is normally limited to two variables of interest: temperature and precipitation. However, impacts can include a greater number of interest variables. We use various Climate Change Models which include an SRES (scenarios for human behavior that have been well investigated and statistically treated), and judge upon their best performance. Although there is much more than what can meet the eye from interactive maps, they are powerful tools for developing further adaptation strategies for  climate change. Thus, although they need technical improvement and user knowledge, they are a very valuable resource.”

Isis Spinola-Schwartz is a lead consultant for Green House Gas Analysis and Climate Planning. “I believe such a tool is a great way to communicate rising sea-level information to the public, elect officials, and decision makers. I worked on Climate Action Plans in California, and we used a GIS tool to show the impact of sea-level rise on the coast through maps developed using GIS. A tool which can show the impact of sea-level rise in real time on existing land would be a fantastic improvement on the overlay system we are currently using.”

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