Student Class Project (Spring 2009): Implications of Sea Level Rise: Cape May County, New Jersey

Class: Advanced Environmental Geomatics, 11:372:462
Class instructor: Richard G. Lathrop
Semester: Spring 2009

Photo: NJ beach.

The students of the Advanced Environmental Geomatics class (Spring 2009), under the direction of class instructor Richard G. Lathrop, studied the implications of sea level rise on the natural habitat and human infrastructure in Cape May County, New Jersey. Geospatial analytical approaches were applied to enhance place-based decision making.

Special thanks go out to the American Society of Landscape Architects, New Jersey Chapter for providing the initial impetus for this project, as well as supplemental funding. The class also wants to gratefully acknowledge the GIS data and assistance provided by the Cape May County Planning Department and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Project Goal

An analysis of human infrastructure and natural habitats effected by various sea level rise (SLR) scenarios were conducted to provide a comprehensive study. A range of projects were undertaken to explore the impact of SLR on both of these fields (these themes and findings are found in the serious of reports on this webpage). With an application of various geospatial analytical approches, the results gained will provide knowledge for placed based decision making.


Cape May County is the southern most county in New Jersey and is home to over 100,000 permanent residents. Its historic background and pristine fishing habitats, makes it a premire tourist hotspot, generating over 5.1 billion dollars annually for the county. The vast expanses of undeveloped land within Cape May provide pristine habitat for numerious species.


To generate the maps of sea level rise scenarios, the students utilized information from a variety of sources including sea level rise estimate from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and New Jersey coast predictions (Psuty, 2002, Rutgers University), storm tidal surge estimates from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and high resolution LiDAR elevation data.


This study was conducted by the Advanced Environmental Geomatics students at Rutgers University, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. The project was undertaken at the Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis under the direction of our professor Dr. Richard Lathrop. Special thanks for everyone who made this project possible.

Class Members: Erik Czaja, Laura Stern, Thomas Thorsen, Manfredi Giliberti, Joe Pignatelli, Megan Hajduk, Nathanael Kielt, Fredrick Shue, Paul Lalancette, and Joshua Rottevee

Photo: class


Richard G. Lathrop
Director, Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis (CRSSA)

Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis (CRSSA)
School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
14 College Farm Road, Cook Campus
New Brunswick, NJ USA 08901-8551
Tel: 732/932-1582
Fax: 732/932-2587