Coastal Vulnerability Assessment of Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CAHA) to Sea-Level Rise

Open-File Report 2004-1064
Prepared in cooperation with the National Park Service
By: , and 



A coastal vulnerability index (CVI) was used to map the relative vulnerability of the coast to future sea-level rise within Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CAHA) in North Carolina. The CVI ranks the following in terms of their physical contribution to sea-level rise-related coastal change: geomorphology, regional coastal slope, rate of relative sea-level rise, historical shoreline change rates, mean tidal range, and mean significant wave height. The rankings for each variable were combined and an index value was calculated for 1-minute grid cells covering the park. The CVI highlights those regions where the physical effects of sea-level rise might be the greatest. This approach combines the coastal system's susceptibility to change with its natural ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions, yielding a quantitative, although relative, measure of the park's natural vulnerability to the effects of sea-level rise. The CVI provides an objective technique for evaluation and long-term planning by scientists and park managers. Cape Hatteras National Seashore consists of stable and washover dominated segments of barrier beach backed by wetland and marsh. The areas within Cape Hatteras that are likely to be most vulnerable to sea-level rise are those with the highest occurrence of overwash and the highest rates of shoreline change.

Suggested Citation

Pendleton, E.A., Theiler, E.R., and Williams, S.J., 2004, Coastal vulnerability assessment of Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CAHA) to sea-level rise, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2004-1064

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Data Ranking
  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore
  • Methodology
  • Geologic Variables
  • Physical Process Variables
  • Coastal Vulnerabilty Index
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • List of Figures and Tables
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Coastal vulnerability assessment of Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CAHA) to sea-level rise
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2004-1064
DOI 10.3133/ofr20041064
Year Published 2005
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 18 p.
Country United States
State North Carolina
Other Geospatial Cape Hatteras National Seashor
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details