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Sea level rise in Washington

Washington’s 3,300 miles of coastal and marine waters play a vital role in our state. Coastal tourism and marine industries sustain coastal communities and fuel the regional economy. Coastal and marine waters also offer abundant recreation opportunities, provide a sense of place, and figure irreplaceably in the traditions and culture of tribal communities. But, Washington’s coastal areas are inherently vulnerable to the dynamic nature of coastal processes.
 
Shoreline in Washington showing high tides, debris on beach, and homes in the background.

Sea level rise projections

There have been a number of previous sea level rise projections. However, the sea level rise projections presented in NOAA’s 2017 Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States serve as the current best available information on projected sea levels for Washington State. These projections were developed by integrating regionally specific factors for coastal areas of the United States into updated scenarios of global mean sea level rise. Projections are available for every 10 years until 2100 and with lower frequency until 2200.
 
The NOAA 2017 report provides a global- and national-scale summary of the best available science on projected sea level rise through 2200. Localized projections for Washington state are available in the form of scenario-based maps at NOAA’s Sea Level Rise Viewer. The information available in this viewer helps staff in Washington’s local governments understand and visualize an approximate range of inundation that may occur from projected sea level rise. However, because these projections are based on a limited number of locations within the state, Ecology has partnered on an effort to produce more precise and further localized projections that will be useful to local government staff planning for sea level rise in their communities. Localized, vertical land movement-inclusive projections for all coastal areas of Washington State are currently in development through the Washington Coastal Resilience Project.