Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2017

Department 1

Environmental Studies


Due to global climate change, sea level rise (SLR) has become a threat for future generations, but the extent of this danger is unknown. To help understand the possible effects of SLR on the east coast of the United States, we studied three national parks: Acadia National Park (ACAD), Assateague Island National Seashore (ASIS) and Everglades National Park (EVER). We predicted that ACAD would be less affected by SLR than ASIS and EVER due to the construction of its beach profile. By measuring the beach profile, we found that Sand Beach in ACAD was reflective with an average slope of 3.2 cm/m while South Ocean Beach in ASIS had an intermediate morphology with an average slope of 1.57 cm/m. The Snake Bight Channel beach in EVER was dissipative and had no slope. Using historical Landsat imagery from 1984 to 2016, we estimated that ACAD’s water area increased by 1.61%, that ASIS’s water area increased by 2.47%, and that the EVER’s water area decreased by 0.22% between 1992 and 2011. Using RCP scenarios from the latest IPCC report, we estimated future inundation levels in each park along with the percent change between the best and worst-case scenarios. Under the RCP8.5 scenario, ACAD had 1.36 km2 of inundation, ASIS had 37.11 km2, and EVER had 366.47 km2. ACAD had the highest percent change between the worst and best RCP scenario at 15.70%. ASIS had a slightly smaller percent change at 14.25% and EVER had even less at 10.42%. This study suggests that continued SLR will cause national parks billions of dollars in property damage and the loss of their inherent ecological value.


Written as an Environmental Studies Senior Capstone.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.