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Responding to sea level rise

Washington includes more than 3,300 miles of marine and estuarine coastline along the Pacific Ocean and Puget Sound. Nearly 70 percent of Washington residents live in the 15 counties contiguous to Puget Sound and the Pacific coast, and many are already experiencing the adverse effects of natural stressors. Rising seas increase the risk of coastal flooding, storm surge inundation, coastal erosion, shoreline retreat, and wetland loss.

Addressing the adverse affects associated with sea level rise is complex and wide-ranging, requiring action on multiple scales. We support efforts to adapt to changing conditions by working to understand the effects of sea level rise and help address vulnerable communities and resources.

Sea level rise initiatives

There are several ongoing projects and initiatives in Washington to help respond to sea level rise. We work in partnership with many organizations. 

Washington King Tides Program

Get involved during the 2018-19 winter "king tides" season by participating in the Washington King Tides Program, sponsored by us and Washington Sea Grant. King tides are some of the highest tides of the year and naturally occur in winter when the sun and moon align, causing an increased gravitational pull on the earth's oceans. The pprogram invites people to visit a marine shoreline during a king tide event and take pictures of important waterfront locations in their community. These images will help scientists, local planners, and decision makers understand how sea level rise and storm surges can affect our infrastructure and ecosystems. Share your king tide photos by uploading them to the Sea Grant photo repository. View the current king tides calendar for specific dates and times.

Washington's Coastal Resilience Project

We are working in partnership with Washington Sea Grant and other state and local managers, conservation groups, and academic scientists to build on key investments and rapidly increase the state’s capacity to prepare for disastrous incidents such as flooding, landslides, beach and bluff erosion, stream channel migration, and earthquakes and tsunamis that threaten state coastlines. Check out the Washington Coastal Resilience Project website.

Coastal Training Program Climate Change Adaptation Series

We work in partnership with our Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve as well as Washington Sea Grant, and UW Climate Impacts Group to provide a sequence of six courses that assist planners and coastal managers by providing guidance, best practices, and resources to address existing and future impacts of shoreline change in Washington. Visit our Coastal Training Program website.