Tool Snapshots

Throughout the Lifting the Fog collaboration, several sea level rise tools, models, and planning processes were considered, with a focus on projects available and on-going in California.  Below is a more detailed look at the tools/ models that were the focus of discussions, presentations, and demonstrations throughout the process.

National Tools/ Models

Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer (SLR Viewer)


  • Organizer/Sponsor: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office for Coastal Management
  • Link:
  • Introductory Video: Explaining the Sea Level Rise Viewer
  • Description: The Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer is a visualization tool for coastal communities showing the potential impacts from sea level rise and coastal flooding. The tool covers the contiguous United States coastline as well as Hawaii, the Pacific territories, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (not yet available in Louisiana and Alaska). In California, the maps use a 5-meter horizontal grid digital elevation model (DEM) and considers static sea level rise on top of mean higher high water (MHHW). The maps are created using a “modified” bathtub approach that includes a hydrologic connectivity assessment. This means that areas are only shown as inundated (in blue) if there is a feasible pathway for water to flow. Areas that are at or below the selected SLR elevation, but are disconnected, are shown in green.
  • Purpose: The purpose of the SLR Viewer is to provide coastal managers and scientists with a preliminary look at sea level rise and coastal flooding impacts. The viewer is a screening-level, planning tool that uses nationally consistent data sets and analyses. Data and maps provided can be used at several scales to help gauge trends and prioritize actions for different scenarios. It can be used to get a quick look at where the future shoreline would be if SLR were to rise today.

Surging Seas


  • Organizer/Sponsor: Climate Central
  • Link:
  • Description: Surging Seas Risk Finder is a multi-part public web tool that provides local sea level rise and flood risk projections, interactive maps, and exposure tabulations from zip codes and up. Projections integrate extreme flood statistics with dozens of sea level rise models and scenarios to choose from. Maps are based on the same 5-meter horizontal grid digital elevation model (DEM) used by NOAA’s SLR Viewer and consider static sea level rise up to 10 feet above mean higher high water (MHHW). Maps illustrate which areas are or are not hydrologically connected to the ocean at each one-foot increment, and have layers for population, social vulnerability, property value, point features and more. Exposure assessments tabulate over 100 demographic, economic, infrastructure and environmental variables for every zip code and municipality, as well as planning, legislative and other districts. Additional features include heat maps showing wide-area exposure comparisons, and extensive data downloads.
  • Purpose: Surging Seas is designed to provide decision makers, planners, coastal managers, emergency managers, federal and state agencies, journalists and the general public with tailored local information to inform their understanding of, and response to, the risks of sea level rise and coastal flooding. The viewer is a screening-level, planning tool that uses data drawn mainly from federal sources, including NOAA, USGS, FEMA, DOT, DOE, DOI, EPA, FCC and the Census.

Statewide Tools/ Models

Cal-Adapt: Exploring California’s Climate


  • Organizer/Sponsor: University of California Geospatial Innovation Facility; California Energy Commission
  • Link:
  • Introductory Video: Video tour of Cal-Adapt
  • Description: Cal-Adapt is a statewide portal of climate research, data and downscaled climate change scenarios produced by the State’s scientific and research community. Sponsored by the California Energy Commission and developed by UC Berkeley’s Geospatial Innovation Facility, the site highlights research into five specific climate impacts: temperature, precipitation, snow pack, wildfire risk and sea level rise. Currently, the site hosts a subset of the Pacific Institute 2009 SLR study (#3 above). Cal-Adapt also links users to other resources developed by NOAA, Climate Central, the SF Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the Nature Conservancy, State Coastal Conservancy, and the Our Coast, Our Future effort.
  • Purpose: Cal-Adapt’s purpose is to provide tools, maps, and data on current climate research to California decision-makers, managers, planners, businesses, and the public.

The Impacts of Sea Level Rise on California’s Coast


  • Organizer/Sponsor: Pacific Institute; California Energy Commission
  • Link:
  • Description: As one of the first California-wide sea level rise studies, these maps provide access to sea-level rise scenarios generated by the Pacific Institute and the U.S. Geological Survey as part of the CA Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research Program (PIER). Originally published in 2009, the tool shows the threat of inundation due to flooding over three depths based on a 100-year flood scenario starting at MHHW. The site offers interactive maps showing coastal and erosion hazard zones and downloadable, static maps (as PDFs) depicting a variety of hazards from coastal flooding to thematic maps of potential impacts from sea level rise. The maps are based on a patchwork of DEM’s that have a range of horizontal grid resolutions (from 2-10 meters).
  • Purpose: The purpose of these maps and data are to inform California decision-makers, planners, and businesses. It is for planning level work only and not to be used for site level work.

Regional Tools/ Models

Coastal Resilience Ventura


  • Organizer/Sponsor: The Nature Conservancy
  • Link:
  • Focus Area: Ventura, CA
  • Description: The Nature Conservancy’s Coastal Resilience tool ( is a visualization and decision support platform where ecological, social, and economic information can be viewed alongside sea level rise and storm surge scenarios to develop risk reduction and restoration solutions. The decision support tool was first created in 2008 and used on the southern shores of Suffolk County, Long Island, in New York. The tool now covers multiple regions including: 10 U.S. States (Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Washington), 4 countries in Latin America (Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras) and 3 island nations in the Caribbean (Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, U.S Virgin Islands). There is also a U.S. National and global application. Coastal Resilience 2.0 was released in October 2013 to better enable decision-makers to assess risk and identify nature-based solutions to reduce socio-economic vulnerability to coastal hazards. The core partners involved in the development of Coastal Resilience include The Nature Conservancy, University of Southern Mississippi, The Natural Capital Project, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, and the Association of State Floodplain Managers.
  • Purpose: Coastal Resilience in Ventura, California, is positioned to support local governments and institutions that are either responding to disasters or preparing and planning for current and future climate conditions. The purpose of the tool is to inform county hazard mitigation planning. Its intended uses are to: (1) raise awareness of coastal hazards issues; (2) examine local flood risk; and (3) identify potential adaptation solutions.

CoSMoS 3.0 Southern California

  • Organizer/ Sponsor: US Geological Survey; State Coastal Conservancy
  • Focus Area: Southern California (Point Conception to the US-Mexico Border)
  • Expected Release Date: In development, due in 2015
  • Description: An updated Southern California project is targeted for completion in 2015. Funding provided from the California Coastal Conservancy with additional support from local jurisdictions will stimulate this multi-agency collaboration featuring top coastal and climate scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Oregon State University, the private sector, and USGS. Model enhancements for Southern California will include: (1) long-term coastal evolution modeled, including sandy beaches and cliffs; (2) downscaled winds from Global Climate Models (GCMs) for locally generated seas and surge; (3) discharge from rivers for event response and long-term sediment supply; and (4) an improved baseline-elevation Digital Elevation Model (DEM) developed by the California Coastal Conservancy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that incorporates the most recent bathymetric and topographic surveys available.

FEMA San Francisco Pilot/Proof of Concept

  • Focus Area: County and City of San Francisco
  • Description: FEMA is undertaking a sea level rise pilot study to develop a non-regulatory product that accounts for future sea level rise conditions. The pilot study focuses on a 13-mile segment of open Pacific shoreline west of the Golden Gate. The methods and tools developed for the FEMA California Coastal Analysis and Mapping Project (CCAMP) will be used to analyze future coastal flood risks that take into account sea level rise and sea level rise-driven changes to wave hazards and storm-induced erosion.

Our Coast, Our Future


  • Organizer/Sponsor: Point Blue Conservation Science; U.S. Geological Survey; Gulf of Farallones National Marine Sanctuary; Coravai, LCC
  • Link:
  • Introductory Videos: Video tutorials on the project and the maps
  • Focus Area: San Francisco Bay Area (from Half Moon Bay to Bodega Head, and San Francisco Bay)
  • Description: Our Coast, Our Future is a collaborative, user-driven project providing decision support tools to help understand, visualize and anticipate the effects of sea level rise and storms on the North-central California coast, from Half Moon Bay to Bodega Head, and San Francisco Bay shorelines and baylands. The tool provides maps that use a 2-meter horizontal grid resolution DEM and consider static sea level rise on top of MHHW for 0, 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175, 200 and 500 centimeters. The inundation maps also consider the 1 year, 20 year and 100 year storm events and their corresponding wave hazards. The water level data was produced using the USGS’s Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS).
  • Purpose: Our Coast, Our Future strives to improve municipal, county, state, and federal government capacity to plan for and respond to rising sea level and storm hazards within the San Francisco Bay Area. The user-defined, state-of-the-science decision support tools provide coastal resource and land use managers and planners locally relevant, online maps and tools to help understand, visualize and anticipate vulnerabilities to sea level rise and storms for most shoreline and baylands ecosystems, communities, and jurisdictions throughout the Bay Area.

Silicon Valley 2.0

  • Organizer/ Sponsor:
  • Link:
  • Focus Area: Silicon Valley County
  • Description: The Silicon Valley 2.0 Project is a regional effort, managed by the Santa Clara County Office of Sustainability and funded by the Strategic Growth Council, to minimize the anticipated impacts of climate change and reduce the generation of local greenhouse gas emissions.The project will use a risk management framework to: (1) evaluate the exposure of community assets (e.g., infrastructure, populations, and landscapes) to likely climate impacts; (2) examine the potential consequences to the economy, society, and environment of this exposure;  and (3) develop preemptive adaptation strategies that improve community resiliency.
  • Purpose: The project will prepare a strategic climate change adaptation plan that aims to facilitate and coordinate regional planning and implementation efforts in this area. The plan will identify assets within the region that are threatened by the anticipated climate change conditions and the magnitude of the potential economic, social, and environmental impacts that could result if no action is taken. Ultimately, the plan will identify the region’s top priorities, and the near–term actions needed to implement an effective regional scale adaptation response. The project will also develop a decision-support tool that will allow jurisdictions and other organizations to evaluate potential climate change impacts and strategies within their communities.