Prioritizing Sea Level Rise Exposure and Habitat Sensitivity Across Puget Sound

Puget Sound Parcel-scale Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment | Washington Coastal Hazards Resilience Network (

Between 2020 and 2022, a team from Washington Sea Grant and Coastal Geologic Services developed a quantitative sea level rise vulnerability approach for coastal parcels on Puget Sound. The goals of the project were to construct, calculate, and map a sea level rise vulnerability index that:

  1. Accounts for potential impacts to both the built environment (homes, roads, and critical infrastructure) and the natural environment (coastal habitats);
  2. Uses only publicly-available data;
  3. Is based on exposure to both erosion and flooding;
  4. Provides insights about differences in vulnerability between individual parcels in Puget Sound;
  5. Enables new insights about the spatial distribution of vulnerability in Puget Sound, and helps to prioritize locations where vulnerability is highest.

Sea level rise vulnerability results mapped for Island County

A geodatabase was developed and reviewed by a project advisory group*, and presented to ten different groups, including three Local Integrating Organizations and one Marine Resource Committee. Based on the feedback from those stakeholders, we conclude that this analysis offers a novel perspective on sea level rise vulnerability throughout Puget Sound. We acknowledge, though, that data limitations and assumptions incorporated into the approach should be considered when interpreting the results.

*John Lovie was a member of the project advisory group