Published: November 5, 2020

Sea level rise is often spoken of in future terms, including projections for impacts we’re likely to see by the end of the century. But in many communities in the U.S., sea level rise is already a factor in people’s lives in the form of high-tide flooding. Also known as sunny day or nuisance flooding, this flooding can occur when slightly higher sea levels – due to melting glaciers and ice sheets, as well as the water in the oceans expanding when it gets warmer – meet a particularly high tide or moderate onshore breeze.

We visit Annapolis, Maryland, a state capitol, home of the U.S. Naval Academy, and seaside tourist town that has seen a dramatic increase in floods in recent years. Waters sometimes breach flood walls, or more often, back up through storm sewers to flood nearby streets. City engineers and a Naval Academy team, working with data from NOAA and NASA, are already working on flood mitigation efforts.

Annapolis is not alone in its planning for a more flood-prone future. Cities like Boston; New York; Philadelphia; Norfolk, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; and Miami are also faced with increased flooding or flood potential.