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The Likelihood of Shore Protection Data Set

The US taxpayers funded the data underlying the article in Environmental Research Letters entitled "State and Local Governments Plan for Development of Most Land Vulnerable to Rising Sea Level along the U.S. Atlantic Coast". Therefore, the data are owned by the public and anyone is entitled to a copy (though the government may charge a small fee--at its discretion--to cover the actual distribution cost). Several people who read this article asked EPA to provide the data set, which led EPA to make it available on December 16, 2009.

GIS data are available in three formats: grid, polygon shape files, and vector shape files. The original draft EPA reports used maps created with polygon shapefiles. Russ Jones and Jue Wang converted the polygons to a 30-meter grid as a first step in the effort to calculate the area of land at various elevtions by likelihood of shore protection for each county. Similarly, John Herter created a vector data set used to estimate the length of shoreline by likelihood of shore protection for each body of water.

If you need these data to make a map, the polygon data may be sufficient for maps of areas that are small enough for the study area to be noticeable along all shorelines. For maps of areas larger than a few counties, however, the study area may not be noticeable, especially in coastal areas with relatively steep slopes. In such a case, you may want to overlay the shoreline vector file, setting the line width wide enough so that the study area shows up, but not so wide that it significantly distorts the results. For large areas, the grid data are probably more manageable than the polygons.

This site provides the grid data for the entire study area, and the metadata for the six states where it was created. The shapefiles are too large for us to provide the entire data set here, so we simply provide a few samples which you can use to decide whether you want the entire data set. If so, we suggest that you ask EPA for that data. According to EPA's official approval allowing Jim Titus to publish this study, if anyone calls him up at the office asking for the data, he will refer them to the FAQ page on the EPA climate change site. Just click on that link and then type your request into the white box called "*Question". Most likely, if you ask for the sea level rise planning data and provide both your email and postal addresses, EPA will be very responsive and send it to you sooner than you expected.

EPA's official explanation of the study and data is in a memorandum provided along with the GIS data. Comparing that memo with earlier official pronouncements shows some evolution. For example, the memo suggests that maps and results should list the source as a chapter from an EPA report called the Likelihood of Shore Protection; but since EPA never published that report it probably makes more sense to cite the article in Environmental Research Letters.


New York New Jersey Pennsylvania Delaware Maryland Virginia

Zipped files with the likelihood of shore protection data set

Raster data, entire study area (48 MB)
Raster data, mid-Atlantic only (13 MB)
Polygon shapefile, Pennsylvania (5 MB)
Polygon shapefile, Maryland (99 MB)
Polygon shapefile, Connecticut (30 MB)
Vector Shoreline shapefile, Connecticut (2 MB)

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Governments Plan for Development of Most Land Vulnerable to Rising Sea (PDF, 7 pp., 1.3 MB) was originally published in Environmental Research Letters , Issue 3, Volume 4 (2009).

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