Is Sea Level Rising?

Yes, sea level rise (SLR) is a physical reality that is impacting the New Jersey and the entire Mid-Atlantic coastline. The historical rate of sea level rise along the New Jersey coast over the past half century was 3-4 mm/yr (or 0.12 - 0.16 in/yr).

graphic about sea level trend

The mean sea level trend is 4.08 mm/year (0.16 in/yr), which is equivalent to a change of 1.34 feet in 100 years.

Graphic Credit: NOAA

Future rates of sea level rise are expected to increase beyond what the New Jersey coast experienced over the past hundred years. Estimates of SLR for New Jersey vary depending upon methods used by different scientists. In August 2013, a panel of sea level rise experts from Rutgers University, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program was convened to assist in developing consensus values for Year 2050 and 2100 SLR scenarios using best available scientific information. Additional refinements have occurred since August 2013 as the scientists have continued with their research and publications.

Due to the uncertainty in projecting sea level rise out into the future, Low, High and Higher scenarios were developed (Table 1). The probabilistic framework of Kopp et al. (2014) provides guidance in interpreting the odds of these different sea-level rise projections (Table 2). The NJFloodMapper is designed to visualize sea level rise within this range of heights. For more information on the development of the consensus SLR projections please refer to the full report available at

Table 1. Consensus sea-level rise projections (in feet) for the New Jersey. The baseline is year 2000 sea level.

Year Low High Higher
2050 1.0 ft 2.0 ft 2.5 ft
2100 2.5 ft 5.0 ft 7.0 ft

Table 2. Sea level rise projections underlying the consensus values. Note: All values are feet above baseline year 2000 sea level.

2050 Projection Low High Higher
  NOAA Average* 1.0 ft 1.5 ft 2.5 ft
  Miller/Kopp (M/K) (2013)** 1.1 ft 1.9 ft 2.2 ft
  Mean of NOAA and M/K 1.0 ft 1.7 ft 2.4 ft
  Consensus Values*** 1.0 ft 2.0 ft 2.5 ft
  Consensus Values:
  % Chance of SLR exceeding this value ****
85% 8% 0.5%
2100 Projection Low High Higher
  NOAA Average* 2.3 ft 4.5 ft 7.5 ft
  Miller/Kopp (M/K) (2013)** 2.5 ft 4.9 ft 5.8 ft
  Mean of NOAA and M/K 2.4 ft 4.7 ft 6.7 ft
  Consensus Values*** 2.5 ft 5.0 ft 7.0 ft
  Consensus Values:
  % Chance of SLR exceeding this value ****
80% 10% 0.8%

* NOAA Intermediate Low projections included under Low category, NOAA Intermediate High included under High category and NOAA High values included as Higher category in Table. SLR Values are in feet and are provided by the NOAA/USACE calculator rounded to the nearest 0.5 ft
** Miller/Kopp Low projections, rounded to nearest 0.1 ft
*** Rounded up to nearest 0.5 ft
**** Percentile projections based on Kopp et al., 2014

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