Adaptation to sea-level rise in North Carolina

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Sea-level rise (SLR) predicted for the Mid-Atlantic U.S. is expected to be greater than worldwide averages forecast by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007. In North Carolina, sea level is expected to rise between 0.3 and 1.1 meters within the next century. SLR is anticipated to exacerbate erosion, storm surges, storm intensity, and more directly, inundate land. North Carolina’s well-established coastal zone management program is fully capable of developing a response strategy to SLR within the existing framework of the local land use plan. This study examines the various coastal laws and policies affecting the North Carolina coastal zone and takes a closer look at some of the current management challenges, many of which will be aggravated by SLR. The study presents a potential starting point for local adaptation to SLR by looking at a case study of the Town of Morehead City. The land use plan for Morehead City was used as a framework for developing a flexible SLR response toolbox. Although development of a SLR toolbox for communities at the local level will increase SLR adaptation capacity, there are still obstacles to be overcome, including the weakened role of land use plans, and the fragmented approach to SLR planning in North Carolina.





McPherson, Martina (2009). Adaptation to sea-level rise in North Carolina. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

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