USGS - science for a changing world

Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

The Impact of Sea-Level Rise and Climate Change on Pacific Ocean Atolls that House Department of Defense Installations

About Our Research
Aerial photograph of Kwajalein Atoll showing its low-lying islands and coral reefs. Photograph showing the impact of a large wave at the south shore of Laysan Island, with endangered Laysan teal in the foreground. Photograph on Roi-Namur Island during an overwash event, March 2014. Photograph on Roi-Namur Island during an overwash event, March 2014. Photograph on Roi-Namur Island during an overwash event, March 2014.

This study is a collaboration between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Deltares (an applied research institute in the Netherlands), and the University of Hawaii (UH). The goals of this study are to:

  1. provide basic understanding and specific information on storm-wave-induced overwash and inundation of atoll islets that house Department of Defense (DoD) installations, and
  2. assess the resulting impact of sea-level rise and storm-wave inundation on infrastructure and freshwater availability under a variety of sea-level rise and climatic scenarios, based on historical information, sea-level rise predictions, and global climate model (GCM) wind, wave, and precipitation output.

Read more in Overview.

News Aerial photograph of Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, showing its low-lying islands and coral reefs.

USGS geologist chairs discussion of issues facing Department of Defense installations in the Pacific and Arctic

At the request of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP), USGS geologist Curt Storlazzi chaired a session at a conference on issues affecting DoD installations.

Section of Kwajalein Atoll showing narrow island surrounded by beach and coral reef.

Computer simulation predicts flooding on coral reef-lined coasts

Scientists have developed a new model called “BEWARE” (Bayesian Estimator of Wave Attack in Reef Environments) for predicting short-term flooding that threatens property and public safety on coral reef-lined coasts.

Aerial photograph of a coral-reef-fringed island in Maldives, Indian Ocean.

International scientists counter threat of flooding on coral reef coasts

Scientists have developed a computer simulation tool to predict short-term flood hazards on coral-reef-lined coasts and to assess longer-term impacts from climate change. The assessments will give input to estimate societal or economic risk and damage from such flooding.

Photograph of a portion of a crocheted art piece called Medusa.

USGS coral expert in wide-ranging panel discussion on “Understanding Coral Reefs”

USGS oceanographer Curt Storlazzi served as a shallow-water coral expert in a panel discussion titled “Understanding Coral Reefs through Marine Science and Woolly Sculptures.”

Photograph of scientist securing a wave-tide gauge on the reef flat.

USGS scientist delivers briefs on coral reefs and climate change

USGS oceanographer Curt Storlazzi briefed DoD, and DOI and its Office of Insular Affairs, on coral reefs and climate change in the Pacific Ocean.

See all news stories

Publications

A Bayesian-Based System to Assess Wave-Driven Flooding Hazards on Coral Reef-Lined Coasts - Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans

BEWARE database: A Bayesian-based system to assess wave-driven flooding hazards on coral reef-lined coasts - U.S. Geological Survey data release

Atoll Groundwater Movement and Its Response to Climatic and Sea-Level Fluctuations - Water 9

Wave dynamics and flooding on low-lying tropical reef-lined coasts - Coastal Dynamics 2017

Land-use change and managed aquifer recharge effects on the hydrogeochemistry of two contrasting atoll island aquifers, Roi-Namur Island, Republic of the Marshall Islands - Applied Geochemistry 80

Exponential increase in coastal flooding frequency due to sea-level rise - Nature Scientific Reports 7

Observations of wave transformation over a fringing coral reef and the importance of low-frequency waves and offshore water levels to runup, overwash, and coastal flooding - Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans 121

Identification and classification of very low frequency waves on a coral reef flat - Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 121

Changes to extreme wave climates of islands within the Western Tropical Pacific throughout the 21st century under RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5, with implications for island vulnerability and sustainability - Global and Planetary Change 141

Many Atolls May be Uninhabitable Within Decades Due to Climate Change - Nature Scientific Reports 5

The influence of coral reefs and climate change on wave-driven flooding of tropical coastlines - Geophysical Research Letters 42

See all publications



Recommended citation: Laura Zink Torresan, and Curt D. Storlazzi, 2014, “The Impact of Sea-Level Rise and Climate Change on Department of Defense Installations on Atolls in the Pacific Ocean”, US Geological Survey, Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, DOI: 10.5066/F7QR4V4C

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: https://walrus.wr.usgs.gov/climate-change/atolls/
DOI: 10.5066/F7QR4V4C
Page Contact Information: Laura Zink Torresan
(lzt)