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High tide flooding, Little Egg Twsp, NJ


Citizen Scientists Document ‘Sunny Day’ Flooding

NJ CONSERVATION FOUNDATION – It doesn’t take a hurricane or tropical storm to flood out streets in New Jersey’s coastal towns. “Sunny day flooding,” associated with high tides rather than storms, has become common in the past two decades due to sea level rise caused by climate change. And it will get worse in the coming years.

How bad is the flooding, and where and when does it take place? That’s what the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve want to find out.

The two agencies recently launched a campaign. They are asking coastal residents to help document flooding episodes in their neighborhoods. Residents can upload photos of local flooding to a website and smartphone app called MyCoast. The portal automatically links images with data on weather conditions and tides.

The goal of MyCoast is to build a database to help government agencies, elected officials, business owners, and residents understand flooding in the larger context of climate change and rising sea levels and make informed decisions on how to avoid or reduce their impacts.

MyCoast isn’t only for folks living at the Jersey shore. All lands with tidal waters are included, like areas along the Hudson River, Passaic River, Delaware Bay, and Delaware River below Trenton. According to MyCoast, 231 New Jersey municipalities in 17 counties are impacted by tides and tidal flooding.

While the MyCoast New Jersey site is still in its infancy, recent studies are deepening our awareness about how sea level rise is changing the landscape of this state we’re in.

For example, a new study led by Rutgers University found that southern New Jersey has experienced the fastest sea level rise of sites studied on the East Coast.

The study published this May in the journal Nature Communications looked at sea level rise over the past 2,000 years at six locations: Leeds Point in Atlantic County; Cape May Court House in Cape May County; Cheesequake State Park in Middlesex County; East River Marsh in Connecticut; Pelham Bay in the Bronx, N.Y.; and Roanoke Island in North Carolina.

The study found that sea levels in the six locations rose twice as fast during the 20th century than in previous centuries largely due to climate change. Impacts include melting glacier ice, warming oceans causing seawater expansion, and the sinking of land, caused in part by pumping large amounts of water from underground aquifers.

In addition, South Jersey was found to have the fastest rates of sea level rise over the 2,000-year period: 1.6 millimeters a year (0.63 inches per decade) at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Leeds Point, and 1.5 millimeters a year (0.6 inches per decade) at Cape May Court House.

According to an earlier Rutgers report, sea level at the Jersey shore has risen about 18 inches since the early 1900s. Researchers say it is likely that the state will experience a total sea level rise of 0.9 to 2.1 feet between 2000 and 2050, but possibly more under a worst-case scenario.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA for short, is also contributing data. Every year since 2015, the agency has analyzed data from 97 tide gauges along the East, West and Gulf coasts.

In the most recent report’s timeframe — May 2020 through April 2021 — the Northeastern U.S. coastline experienced an average of 6.4 days of sunny day flooding.

The national average was four days a year of flooding, a frequency that doubled in the past 20 years. New Jersey’s flooding appears to be above the average. In Sandy Hook and Atlantic City, the average number of flood days in 2000 was five; in 2020-21 it was 11. Without mitigation measures, NOAA predicts that by 2030 there will be at least 25 flood days a year in Sandy Hook and 20 in Atlantic City.

“The increased frequency of these minor flooding events is the most tangible consequence of sea level rise,” William Sweet, the report’s lead author, told journalists. Infrastructure at or below high tide elevations, he added, is “increasingly at risk.”

In addition to NOAA’s sea-level rise projections, a recent National Aeronautics and Space Administration study predicts that by the 2030s a shift in the lunar cycle will further accelerate high tide flooding.

You can help build the MyCoast database, and the ability of decision makers to respond to flooding and sea level rise. Go to to start documenting flooding in your neighborhood. You can also add photos of your favorite coastal sites under the “Places We Love” category.

Meet the Climate Corps

Angel Alguera, Rutgers Climate CorpsAngel Alguera
I am a first-year Atmospheric Science master’s degree student in the Department of Environmental Sciences, and my work focuses on meteorology and applications of climate change resiliency. My professional interests include severe weather forecasting and community preparedness regarding weather-related disasters. I work with Dr. James Shope at the NJ Climate Change Resource Center to produce applied research and reports relevant to New Jersey stakeholders. I currently assist with climate change data analysis, large dataset management, and report writing.

Daniel GilkesonDaniel Gilkeson
I’m a second-year master’s student in the City and Regional Planning Program with a concentration in environmental planning. As a planner, I hope to build more resilient communities in the face of increased risk due to climate change. With the Climate Change Resource Center, I am working on a project to aid the state in an update of its floodplain buyout program, known as Blue Acres, to be more proactive and comprehensive. Prior to this position, I interned in the Community and Economic Development Office at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Association. I’m also an AmeriCorps alum, having completed a year of service working on affordable housing in Nashville, Tennessee.

Benjamin GoldbergBenjamin Goldberg
I am a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student concentrating in climate adaptation and resiliency planning, with experience in sustainable food systems. I joined the Climate Corps last summer to help develop a GIS-based food waste recovery tool, and currently support community resilience through flood vulnerability analysis. I hold a B.A. from Middlebury College and a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture from UC Santa Cruz.

Surya Jacob, Rutgers Climate CorpsSurya Jacob
I am a graduate student in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School concentrating in community development, focused on housing, land and finance, as well as pursuing the Real Estate Development/Redevelopment Certification. Prior to Bloustein, I worked as an architect and interior designer in India and Canada and am pivoting towards a career in urban planning to engage in extensive projects at the macro level. My interests include affordable and mixed income housing, urban redevelopment, and housing finance, and I am deeply passionate about climate resilience in community planning. Being part of Climate Corps is a foundational step towards helping to solve equity issues in vulnerable communities along the coastal region.

Vineesh Das Kodakkandathil, RutgersVineesh Das Kodakkandathil
I am an urban planner with five years of professional experience in community-led ecotourism development and land use and environment management planning in ecologically sensitive areas. I have worked on and conducted extensive environmental sensitivity analyses, flood and landslide vulnerability assessments, and human impact assessments with the help of GIS tools. I’m currently pursuing my master’s in City and Regional Planning at Bloustein School with a concentration in Transport Planning and GIS.

Douglas LeungDouglas Leung
I am working with the Climate Change Resource Center to identify vulnerable communities and places affected by climate-induced flooding in coastal New Jersey municipalities. I am a Master of City and Regional Planning candidate at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. As a planner, I want to develop strategies and solve problems affecting our cities and communities that enable more equitable outcomes in housing and transportation. I am also a recent Army veteran, having served as a company commander of recruiting in the northern suburbs of Chicago and as a reconnaissance platoon leader in the 10th Mountain Division. For fun, I enjoy weightlifting, running, reading fiction, and board games.

Nihar MhatreNihar Mhatre
I am a master’s candidate in city and regional planning at Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, focusing on urban design and land use planning. Before being accepted at Rutgers, I worked as an architect at JD Studio and had my own architectural practice, Vastu Insights. My research interests revolve around designing and developing climate change adaptation and resilience strategies to promote equity in urban landscapes. Having the opportunity to work on real-world projects through Climate Corps will be an essential step in the development of my understanding of addressing climate change issues in vulnerable regions.

Justin MorrisJustin Morris
Justin is a master’s student at Rutgers University studying discovery informatics and data sciences. He is working under Professor Mark Rodgers to develop an optimization model that will act as a decision support tool for university financial investments with the end goal of eliminating Rutgers’ scope 2 emissions. He is excited to apply his background in data analytics and mathematical programming to help the university fight climate change.

Josephine O'GradyJosephine O’Grady
I am a first-year student in the Master of Public Policy program. Through the Coastal Climate Risk and Resilience (C2R2) certification, I am focusing a significant portion of my graduate coursework on topics including coastal geomorphology, environmental justice, and hazard mitigation planning. Before beginning my studies at the Bloustein School, I received my bachelor’s degree in public health from Kean University, where I first became interested in how coastal dynamics shape lived experiences. I previously served as an intern at the New Jersey State Policy Lab and currently work for the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub (MACH) team.

Jessica Parineet Jessica Parineet
I am a first-year Master of Public Policy student at the Bloustein School with a strong interest in climate change policy and related topics. In my previous work, I gained experience in a number of dimensions of climate change issues through carbon capture storage research, urban heat island research, and community level engagement as I am currently on the Student Advisory Board for the Rutgers Office of Climate Action. I am excited to expand on my interests in environmental justice and local level resilience planning through my involvement in the Climate Corps.

Dillon Patel Dillan Patel
I am a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student concentrating in Environmental Planning and International Development. I have previously worked as an economist performing cost-benefit analysis and conducting monitoring and evaluation for renewable energy in developing countries. I have also spent a summer in western Massachusetts mapping stormwater infrastructure and working with planners to identify suitable places for green stormwater infrastructure.

Moira Sweeder, Rutgers Climate CorpsMoira Sweeder
I am a graduate student enrolled in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School. My concentration is environmental planning with a focus on coastal resilience. Before pursuing my master’s degree at Rutgers, I studied sustainability at Stockton University. During this time, I interned for the PSEG Institute of Sustainability Studies, the Jacques Cousteau National Estuary Research Reserve, and NJ Audubon. I am thrilled to now be a part of the Climate Corps, researching coastal resilience as a part of the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub (MACH) team.

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