Research Needs for Advancing Science on Sea Level Rise and Associated Risks in the Coastal Environment

While global sea level rise is certain to continue, the physical science of sea level rise and related climate changes remains incomplete, making future projections uncertain. Moreover, social and ecological understanding of place-based vulnerability and adaptation options in coastal regions of the United States is lacking. Thus, research is needed to improve our understanding and projections of future sea level rise, the impacts of this rise on affected human and natural systems, and the feasibility of adaptation options in the near and longer term. Specific research needs, which are explained in more detail in Chapter 7, include the following:

• Reduce the scientific uncertainties associated with changes in glaciers and ice sheets.

• Improve understanding of ocean dynamics and regional rates of sea level rise.

• Develop tools and approaches for understanding and predicting the impacts of sea level rise on coastal ecosystems and coastal infrastructure.

• Expand the ability to identify and assess vulnerable coastal regions and populations and to develop and assess adaptation strategies that can reduce vulnerability or build adaptive capacity.

• Develop decision-support capabilities for all levels of governance in response to the challenges associated with sea level rise.

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