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Sea Level Rise

On average, global sea levels have risen 8–9 inches (21–24 centimeters) since 1880. The rate of sea level rise is accelerating, and has more than doubled from 0.06 inches (1.4 millimeters) per year throughout most of the twentieth century to 0.14 inches (3.6 millimeters) per year from 2006–2015. In many locations along the US coastline, high-tide flooding is now 300% to 900% more frequent than it was 50 years ago. Today, tidal flooding on average affects the US Gulf and Atlantic coastlines 3 to 6 days per year. By the 2040s, tidal flooding events are projected to increase to as often as 80 to 180 days a year according to NOAA. This rise in sea levels is due to melting terrestrial ice sheets and glaciers and the thermal expansion of ocean water as a result of increasing global temperatures.

How will sea level rise affect the City of Cape Canaveral?

The City of Cape Canaveral is a barrier island municipality, with the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Banana River Lagoon to the west. Both bodies of water play a vital role in sustaining the City’s socio-economic activities and support the larger Central Florida economy as a whole—and will likely be impacted by rising seas.

In 2019, City Staff and representatives of the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council (ECFRPC) completed months of analysis and outreach to create the City’s first Vulnerability Assessment (Assessment). Funded by a grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) through their Florida Resilient Coastlines Program (FRCP)—a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) approved program—the report created by the ECFRPC examined the impacts sea-level rise and flooding within Cape Canaveral. The report employs several models developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and NOAA to project possible sea-level rise scenarios and the respective impacts on the City. Timeframes evaluated as part of the report include 2040, 2070 and 2100. The report also models future sea-level rise and its effect on storm surge created by tropical cyclones. According to the Assessment’s findings, the City of Cape Canaveral is estimated to see between 5.15 and 8.48 feet of sea level rise by 2100.

It is important to note though that affects can be expected much earlier than 2100, with higher sea levels already having an impact on our coastline in the form of increased beach erosion, larger storm surges during tropical cyclones, and more instances of nuisance flooding (also called sunny day flooding), or flooding that occurs at exceptional high tides that causes inland inundation over prolonged periods. Tide gauge data from Trident Pier—located in Port Canaveral—indicates a consistent trend in the increase of historical yearly flood events, with the average maximum daily water levels during the highest tide of the year now about 9 inches above 1994 levels.

What is the City doing about it?

The City’s Vulnerability Assessment was the first step in understanding the local risk presented by sea level rise. Residents are encouraged to read the Assessment’s findings and recommendations to learn more.

Today, the City has numerous mitigation strategies either in place or in development in order to adaptively manage the risk posed by sea level rise to both City facilities and residents. Below is an overview of some of these efforts. This list is by no means comprehensive, as the City is constantly building on its efforts to protect its residents' safety. This list will continue to be updated on this page as the City moves forward with future resiliency initiatives.

For real time information related to storm surge and coastal flooding please visit the National Weather Service showcasing data from the Trident Pier tide gauge in Port Canaveral.

Adopt-A-Mangrove Program

American Flood Coalition Member

Canaveral City Park Water Exfiltration System

City Hall Exfiltration System 

Comprehensive Plan Coastal Management Element

East Central Florida Regional Planning Council (ECFRPC) Partner

Emergency Preparedness

FEMA CRS Program

Flood Barriers

Long Point Estuary Park Project

Sea Oat Plantings

Stormwater + Wastewater Management Projects - Ongoing

Additional Resources

Common Terms

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