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  • Shoreline Destruction
    Sea Level Rise

Sea Level Rise Overview

Sea level rise is caused by a number of factors summarized in the figure on the left (click to enlarge), but in recent decades ocean warming and ice sheet loss due to global warming have contributed significantly to global sea level rise. Along the east coast, including Connecticut, sea level rise rates are more rapid than the global average rate because of subsidence or sinking of the coastline.

Sea level rise has multiple impacts on the Connecticut shoreline, including increased erosion rates, increased frequency of flooding, and coastal inundation. With sea level rise, the shoreline is impacted - beaches get eroded, salt marshes move landward, and property can be damaged. With a higher sea level, a storm surge or high tide that would not have been a problem in the past, now results in more frequent flooding and extreme hurricane events cause even greater damage.

CIRCA Local Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the State of Connecticut

In 2012 NOAA released global sea level rise scenarios that were referenced in Connecticut state statute requiring that sea level rise be considered in state and local plans of conservation and development and natural hazard mitigation plans. That same statute charged CIRCA with updating the scenarios to be local for the state of Connecticut.

CIRCA recommends that Connecticut plan for the upper end of the range of values projected of sea level rise or up to 20 inches (50cm) of sea level rise higher than the national tidal datum in Long Island Sound by 2050 and that it is likely that sea level will continue to rise after that date. The Institute also recommends that the scenarios be updated at least every 10 years, or more frequently, to incorporate the best available science and new observations.

Sea level rise projections for Connecticut based on local tide gauge observations (blue), the IPCC (2013) RPC 4.5 model simulations near Long Island Sound (yellow line), the semi-empirical models (orange line) and ice budgets (magenta line) as in CPO-1.  Link to full report is below.

Overview of Projects

The attached list of projects includes all Sea Level Rise Projects UCONN CIRCA has participated in or funded.

All Sea Level Rise Projects


sea level rise illustration
(Click image to enlarge) The factors that contribute to sea level change, both on land and in the sea. Source: IPCC (2001)