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August 11-13, 2015
Hilton Garden Inn, Suffolk, VA


Assessing the hazards and impacts of sea level rise in Virginia

Tal Ezer, CCPO/ODU

To assess the risks associated with sea level rise (SLR) in Virginia and plan mitigation and adaptation measures one must recognize the causes for local SLR, quantify past SLR and its impacts, and assess potential future SLR. The talk will review the three main contributors to local SLR and their uncertainties: global SLR, local land subsidence and regional changes in ocean and atmospheric dynamics. The reason why Virginia’s coasts are at higher risk for flooding than most other places along the U.S. East coast is explained by two main factors, the high rate of land subsidence and the impact of climatic changes on slowing down the Gulf Stream current- both add to the already increased rate of global SLR. The increased risk of flooding associated with SLR can be seen in acceleration of the hours of minor flooding and more damage from storm surges. For example, of all the biggest storm surges recorded in Norfolk, there were as many storms with large impact in the last 15 years as there were in the previous 75 years.

For more scientific details see the references below (PDFs of the papers are available from:

Ezer, T. (2015), Detecting changes in the transport of the Gulf Stream and the Atlantic overturning circulation from coastal sea level data: The extreme decline in 2009-2010 and estimated variations for 1935-2012, Global and Planetary Change, 129, 23-36.

Ezer, T. and L. P. Atkinson (2014), Accelerated flooding along the U. S. East Coast: On the impact of sea level rise, tides, storms, the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Oscillations. Earth's Future, 2(8), 362-382.

Ezer, T. (2013), Sea level rise, spatially uneven and temporally unsteady: Why the U.S. East Coast, the global tide gauge record and the global altimeter data show different trends, Geophys. Res. Lett., 40(20), 5439-5444.

Ezer, T., L. P. Atkinson, W. B. Corlett and J. L. Blanco (2013), Gulf Stream's induced sea level rise and variability along the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast, J. Geophys. Res., 118(2), 685-697

Atkinson, L. P., T. Ezer and E. Smith (2013), Sea level rise and flooding risk in Virginia, Sea Grant Law and Policy Journal, 5(2), 3-14.

Ezer, T. and W. B. Corlett (2012), Is sea level rise accelerating in the Chesapeake Bay? A demonstration of a novel new approach for analyzing sea level data, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39(19), L19605