Sea-Level Trends

Isabel damage
Coastal damage from Hurricane Isabel.

For coastal planning, the only sea level changes that matter are the ones relative to the land, explains Dr. John Boon, Professor Emeritus at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), College of William and Mary. There are two basic types of sea level change: 1) eustatic or world-wide change in sea level due primarily to increasing or decreasing ocean volumes and 2) local apparent change in sea level due to the vertical movement of land. Although sea level is rising in the Hampton Roads area (as in many other areas), there is some question as to whether the rise rate is accelerating.

Read more about this subject including specific examples in Sea Coast and Sea Level Trends, by Dr. John Boon. To provide comments related to this article, please contact Dr. Boon.


View video clips on sea level rise (uses Real Player and Quicktime Player):

Chesapeake Baywatch - Dr. Kirk Havens, VIMS

Sea-level Rise - Dr. Carl Hershner, VIMS

Marsh Importance - Dr. Carl Hershner, VIMS


Hurricane Isabel Model Information

Physical information related to Hurricane Isabel was collected at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Data were modeled by Jian Shen, VIMS Physical Oceanography Department.

See link for video on wave height and wind bands as the storm came through Hampton Roads (Windows Media Player).

Simulation of Hurricane Isabel Using the Advanced Circulation Model (ADCIRC), Jian Shen, Wenping Gong, and Harry Wang (.pdf)

Improved Storm Surge Model Prediction Using a High Resolution Unstructured Grid by Jian Shen, VIMS


Sea-Level Rise and Wildlife

Bird Surveys of Lee and Marsh Hill Marshes on the Pamunkey River: Possible Affects of Sea-Level Rise on Marsh Bird Communities


Related Links

For links to other sea level trend related information see:

For useful storm surge and structural integrity related information see:


Isabel damage
Virginia coastal area after Hurricane Isabel
shoreline erosion
Coastal bank erosion. Photo: Carl Hershner