Interactive Map Highlights Potential Sea Level Rise Impact on Virginia’s Coastal Communities

A new interactive map by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) vividly illustrates the potential consequences of sea level rise for Virginia, spotlighting the vulnerability of coastal areas like Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Poquoson, Newport News, and Hampton. This tool is crucial for understanding how rising seas could reshape our state, emphasizing areas that could be significantly affected.

The map enables users to see the effects of various sea level increases, from minor elevations to more extreme scenarios. According to the latest forecasts by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global sea levels are likely to rise by up to 3.61 feet by 2100, with a rise of up to 6.6 feet also within the realm of possibility.

Projections displayed on the NOAA map reveal that a 3-foot rise in sea levels would begin to encroach upon Virginia’s coastal and riverbank areas. With a 6-foot rise, many of these areas—including significant portions of Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk—would be heavily submerged. This scenario places nearly 1 million residents in these densely populated regions at risk.

Furthermore, Virginia’s Eastern Shore and several islands in Chesapeake Bay could be completely submerged, transforming the geography and community dynamics of the region.

Residents and planners can use this web mapping tool to visualize community-level impacts from coastal flooding or sea level rise, projecting changes for up to 10 feet above average high tides. This valuable resource is essential for planning and preparedness efforts as we face the realities of climate change.

For more detailed insights and visualizations, visit NOAA’s sea level rise map at NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer.

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