Center staff coauthors new Sea Level Rise Application Guide

Every five years, U.S. federal agencies update sea level rise projections and release a technical summary report. As the latest 2022 update was being developed, Laura Engeman, a coastal resilience specialist with the Center, worked in tandem with the technical report authors to develop an application guide that would provide user-friendly digestion of the latest sea-level rise projections and recommendations for how to incorporate these science updates into local planning and decision making.

Engeman and her co-authors, who represent various Sea Grant programs, estuary reserves and NOAA, all have extensive experience in supporting community-level sea level rise planning. With support from NOAA and NASA, they were given unique access to early drafts of the updated 2022 Sea Level Rise Technical Report to write a companion application guide that distilled the science into a framework that would resonate with community planners and resource managers. They were also engaged in ongoing dialogue with the technical authors and contributed to the development of Frequently Asked Questions for the technical report.

The application guide is a huge step forward in connecting climate projections and climate action. About the report, Engeman says, “This guide is a how-to document that helps community members figure out how to combine future scenarios with risk management approaches to maximize investments and planning for sea level rise in their region. It’s designed to help no matter what stage of preparation communities are at — whether they’re just starting out or deep into adaptation planning.”

The guide walks stakeholders through how to interpret and use the projections from the technical report, highlights the main considerations necessary for sea level rise planning, and coaches stakeholders on how they can weigh various local considerations to find the best solutions for their own community. Examples of real sea level rise adaptation projects from around the country are also included in order to provide stepping-off points for communities new to sea level rise adaptation.

Engeman hopes that the application guide will help make the important science updates in the Technical Report more accessible and actionable for the stakeholders on the forefront of sea level rise impacts: “This was a unique effort to make sure the science in this report was getting used right out the door, and that community stakeholders were able to understand what was being presented in the report and how the sea level rise projections have changed in the last five years.”

Sources and further reading:
NOAA | 2022 Sea Level Rise Technical Report
NOAA | 2022 Sea Level Rise Application Guide
NOAA | Application Guide for the 2022 Sea Level Rise Technical Report Now Available
Sea Grant | New Guide to Help Communities Plan for Sea Level Rise