Sea Level Rise Planning Maps
This project created maps depicting the likelihood of shore protection along the Virginia coast as part of a nationwide study reported in "State and local governments plan for development of most land vulnerable to rising sea level along the U.S. Atlantic Coast.", which appeared in Environmental Research Letters (2009). For your convenience we also include maps from the companion studies of Maryland and North Carolina.
The purpose of the project was to motivate dialogues about the appropriate response to rising sea level, by creating maps that depict the likely response given current practices and policies. The maps divide coastal low lands into four categories: developed (shore protection almost certain), intermediate (shore protection likely), undeveloped (shore protection unlikely), and conservation (no shore protection).
Northern Virginia and most of the Hampton Roads areas are intensely developed except for park and conservation lands, and most land there is almost certain to be protected. Near the North Carolina border, however, Virginia Beach plans to keep the area south of its "Rural Line" largely undeveloped. The City of Chesapeake, by contrast, plans to develop much of its rural lands. Development is not immediately expected for much of the Eastern Shore and along many of the tributaries to Chesapeake Bay. No policies are in place; however, to prevent such development either. Along the Atlantic ocean, almost all of the barrier islands are off limits to development.