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 ( (Project advisor)

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

Addidtional resources:

A Data-Driven Approach for Assessing Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Applied to Puget Sound, Washington State, USA

Complementary social vulnerability assessment to support sea level rise planning in the Puget Sound region of Washington State