Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

Document Type



Sea level rise (SLR) is directly influenced by climate change through the processes of temperature affecting the growth and decay of continental ice (Barron and Thompson 1990). It is a significant environmental challenge that threatens coastal areas of many nations throughout the world. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report issued in 2007 states that SLR poses a serious challenge to sustainable development along many coastal areas. The objectives of this thesis are to examine the SLR management issue both in the P.R.C. and the U.S, identify the government agencies that are concerned with SLR issues in the two countries and the specific programs that have been conducted by these agencies, analyze the key obstacles to managing risks associated with SLR, and recommend actions to address some of these challenges. The research methods include reviewing the monitoring efforts, laws, and administrative systems dealing with SLR in the U.S. and the P.R.C., surveying a panel of experts consisting of government agency administrators and researchers in the two countries, and performing vulnerability analysis through case studies of two significant coastal areas in the U.S. and the P.R.C. The research findings indicate that the SLR monitoring efforts of the two countries are very similar, both in terms of technology used and the density of monitoring stations along the coastlines. However, different stages of policy development related to SLR were evident, with the U.S. having established a more integrated federal and state-level policy framework for incorporating SLR issues into coastal planning through the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972. Currently, risk assessments and some planning activities similar to those conducted in the U.S. are being implemented or are under development by policy makers in the P.R.C.. The main obstacles reported by the experts in both countries to systematically incorporating SLR risks into coastal zone planning were limited budgets, public apathy and the presence of other pressing coastal management issues. Public education efforts designed to convey the potential risk of SLR to stakeholders of specific coastal communities, including possible socioeconomic and environmental consequences, would appear to be a logical strategy to address key reported obstacles to integration of SLR risks into long-term coastal planning.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Reams, Margaret