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Model Report

Sea Level Rise Coastal Property Model

Last Revision Date: 09/01/2010 View as PDF
General Information Back to Top
Model Abbreviated Name:

Model Extended Name:

Sea Level Rise Coastal Property Model
Model Overview/Abstract:
The impact of sea level rise on coastal properties depends critically on the human response to the threat, which in turn depends on several factors, including the immediacy of the risk, the magnitude of property value at risk, options for adapting to the threat and the cost of those options, and in some cases, land-use or regulatory restrictions that apply to the property. This model estimates the response to and economic impacts of sea level rise on coastal properties using a spatially comprehensive Geographic Information System (GIS)-based modeling approach that considers each of the aforementioned factors. The model can be used for a number of purposes, including the development of: 1) national-level estimates of the benefits of reducing sea level rise through the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions; and 2) local-level results assessing management actions that could facilitate adaptation to sea-level rise risks.
Keywords: Sea level rise; climate change; coast; vulnerability; inundation;
Model Technical Contact Information:
Agency Contact:
Jeremy Martinich
Office of Air and Radiation
Climate Change Division

Developor Contact:
Jim Neumann
Industrial Economics, Inc.

Model Homepage: N/A
Substantive Changes from Prior Version: N/A
Plans for further model development: N/A

User Information Back to Top
Technical Requirements
Computer Hardware
Desktop computer
Compatible Operating Systems
Other Software Required to Run the Model
Microsoft Access, ESRI ArcGIS 9.3 or higher
Download Information
Contact Jeremy Martinich
Using the Model
Basic Model Inputs
Elevation data, planning and land use data, property data, shoreline characterization data. A number of other parameters (e.g., cost of different shoreline protection strategies, sea level rise scenarios, timeframe, etc) can be manipulated, however default values are provided. The model is distinctive for its comprehensive geographic coverage, rapid run-time, and the flexibility of inputs.
Basic Model Outputs
Total area and value of parcels at risk, area and value of parcels abandoned, costs of different protection strategies (beach nourishment, elevation of land, and construction of armoring structures), and total costs. The model is also capable of producing cumulative discounted damage costs over the full modeling period and maps displaying response results by grid cell.
User Support
User's Guide Available?
Not currently available on a website. Model documentation can be obtained by contacting Jeremy Martinich.
Other User Documents
Neumann, J.E., Hudgens, D.E., Herter, J. and Martinich, J. (2010) Assessing Sea-Level Rise Impacts: A GIS-Based Framework and Application to Coastal New Jersey, Coastal Management, 38: 4, 433-455.

Neumann, J.E., Hudgens, D.E., Herter, J. and Martinich, J. (2010) The economics of adaptation along developed coastline, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, In Press.

Availability of User Support
Not available.
User Qualifications
Moderate level of education and experience related to coastal vulnerability and protection strategies.

Model Science Back to Top
Problem Identification
A more complete understanding of the risks posed by climate change and the benefits of avoiding damages to coastal areas requires quantification and valuation of potential impacts. This information can serve multiple purposes. First, valuation and incorporation of potential climate change impacts on coastal communities and ecosystems will help inform the design of climate change policy. Representation of these impacts in policy discussions may help reduce or minimize future costs, inform decisions to balance investments in mitigation and adaptation, and identify conditions that lead to the most dangerous and costly impacts.

Second, land use planners responsible for protecting coastal development and natural systems will increasingly rely on information regarding resources and decisions that are most vulnerable or sensitive to climate change. In response to rising sea levels, coastal planners and homeowners are likely to protect their property by elevating structures, constructing seawalls, nourishing beaches, and using other methods. Such an investment in protecting shorelines will likely impose substantial costs on property owners, local municipalities, and state and federal programs. Modeling tools designed to estimate the value of resources at risk and the costs associated with protecting land from these impacts can help managers make decisions that promote sustainability, reduce overall costs, and improve coastal resiliency. While effective adaptation to the impacts of climate change can greatly reduce the eventual costs, it requires careful advance planning.

Summary of Model Structure and Methods
The basic structure involves arraying relevant input data and constructing a spatial geo-database on a 150-meter grid cell frame. The analysis and aggregation modules then access the geo-database, along with a series of user-defined input parameters, such as SLR scenario and the cost of armoring or beach nourishment, and estimate the response to SLR. Decision-making for the response modeling can be based either on an optimal protection algorithm, which effectively approximates benefit-cost analyses for each grid cell and, in some cases, neighboring cells, or a user-defined mapping of planning, zoning, and/or land-use categories to a specific response category (protect or no-protect).
Model Evaluation
The Coastal Property Model has been evaluated and reviewed in several peer-reviewed publications, including the following:

Neumann, J.E., Hudgens, D.E., Herter, J. and Martinich, J. (2010) Assessing Sea-Level Rise Impacts: A GIS-Based Framework and Application to Coastal New Jersey, Coastal Management, 38: 4, 433-455.

Neumann, J.E., Hudgens, D.E., Herter, J. and Martinich, J. (2010) The economics of adaptation along developed coastline, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, In Press.

Key Limitations to Model Scope
Two assumptions are worth mentioning. First, the model only estimates inundation resulting from gradual sea level rise and does not account for the effects from periodic storm surge. However, the omission of storm surge damage might not be an important omission. At equilibrium, with a similar pattern of storm risks now and in the future, it could be argued that shoreline change and therefore coastal damages will be based on property elevation relative to sea level, and the value of property, which are the two critical variables in the model. For regional and national-scale analyses, therefore, a good first approximation of the marginal damage of SLR is simply the property lost to the sea, or the cost of measures taken to avoid permanent property loss.

Second, the model assumes a uniform armoring response, whereby communities will respond to rising sea levels in optimal ways to reduce protection costs. In reality, this may not always be the case; therefore, the model likely underestimates protection costs.

Case Studies
Covered in the papers cited above.

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