Chad Tolman

Sea Level Rise

I serve on the Delaware Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee (SLRAC), on which I represent the LWVDE and which is led by the Coastal Programs Division of our state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).  The committee is considering three scenarios for sea level rise, with the average sea level at high tide increasing by 0.5, 1.0 or 1.5 meter (about 20, 40 or 60 inches) by 2100.  My own view is that sea level could rise by well over 1.5 meters by 2100 because both Greenland and Antarctica are losing ice at accelerating rates.  In 2011 I submitted a paper to the committee describing the science, titled, Rising Seas and Stronger Storms: Delaware's Adaptation in the Face of Uncertainty.  It's on the web at:

The SLRAC has published a Vulnerability Assessment Report, looking at 79 natural and human resources that could be under water at high tide by 2100 under the three scenarios - even in the absence of storm surge.  For example, 1.5 meters will inundate about 5% of the residences in the state,  It can be found at:

Delaware is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise becasue it has the lowest average eledvation of any state in the country - only about 60 feet or 20 m.

The SLRAC is now considering a variety of adaptation options and plans to issue a report with recommendations to the Secretary of DNREC by the middle of the year.  The work may be useful for planning in other coastal states.


Chad Tolman