Table of Contents Web Site Title Page Introduction Risk Variables Data Ranking Coastal Vulnerability Index Results Discussion Summary References Woods Hole Field Center Home Page Coastal and Marine Geology Program Home Page U.S. Geological Survey with link to U.S.G.S. Home Page

National Assessment of Coastal Vulnerability to Sea-Level Rise: Preliminary Results for the U.S. Pacific Coast


The coastal vulnerability index (C.V.I.) provides insight into the relative potential of coastal change due to future sea-level rise. The maps and data presented here can be viewed in at least two ways:

  • as a base for developing a more complete inventory of variables influencing the coastal vulnerability to future sea-level rise to which other elements can be added as they become available; and
  • as an example of the potential for assessing coastal vulnerability to future sea-level rise using objective criteria.

As ranked in this study, coastal geomorphology and coastal slope are the most important variables in determining the C.V.I.. Wave height, relative sea-level rise, and tide range provide large-scale variability to the coastal vulnerability index. Erosion and accretion rates, where complete, contribute the greatest variability to the C.V.I. at short spatial scales. The rates of shoreline change, however, are the most complex and poorly documented variable in this data set. Most of the rates used here are based on a dated, low-resolution data set, and thus far, corrections have been made only on a preliminary level. To best understand where physical changes may occur, large-scale variables must be clearly and accurately mapped and small-scale variables must be understood on a scale that takes into account their geologic and environmental influences.

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