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Interactive map shows how Virginia's coast will change as sea levels rise

interactive Map SELC
Southern Environmental Law Center
The Changing Coast interactive map shows how climate change may alter the southeastern coastline.

Coastal wetlands are key to the survival of many birds and fish. They soak up floodwaters and protect people’s homes, but they’re threatened by rising sea levels according to Morgan Butler, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

“We are looking at two to 2.5 feet of sea level rise just by 2050,” he says

And documents we’ve depended on for planning – like FEMA maps of flood plains –are based on old information:

“The storms we had in the past are not the storms we’re having now, and they’re certainly not the storms we’ll be having in the future," Butler explains. "We need to get that data updated to make sure we’re making informed decisions.”

So the Southern Environmental Law Center has launched an interactive online map called The Changing Coast – a tool people can use when evaluating plans for new buildings and roads.

“You can bring up a specific city, a specific neighborhood within that city.”

The map can also be adjusted to show low-income neighborhoods where people are least able to adapt.

“They may not be able to afford to move or to raise their houses. These are areas that you have to be particularly careful about.”

The site also includes a slideshow of affected wildlife and advice on where and how to build barriers that will protect properties as seas, tidal bays and rivers rise.

You’ll find the interactive map at https://www.southernenvironment.org/the-changing-coast/

Updated: February 15, 2022 at 2:29 PM EST
Editor's Note: The Southern Environmental Law Center is a financial supporter of Radio IQ.
Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief