<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url=https://r.sealevelrise.org/https://sealevelrise.org/states/new-jersey/"/> New Jersey's Sea Level Rise - Sea Level Rise


New Jersey’s Sea Level Is Rising

And It's Costing Over $2 Billion

The sea level off New Jersey’s coast is up to 12 inches higher than it was in 1950.1 This increase is mostly due to New Jersey’s sinking land, and it’s causing major issues. Solutions in New Jersey can be complicated because as land is sinking, shores are also eroding. The state has many oceanfront communities and countless species of wildlife at risk from sea level rise.2 There are already over 45,000 properties at risk from frequent tidal flooding in New Jersey.3 The state is planning over $2 billion in sea level rise solutions, which include restoration projects, catastrophic flood prevention, and building seawalls.

Sea level rise is speeding up

The sea level around Atlantic City, New Jersey, has risen by 12 inches since 1950. Its speed of rise has accelerated over the last ten years and it’s now rising by over 1 inch every 5 years.1 Scientists know this because the sea level is measured every 6 minutes using equipment like satellites, floating buoys off the coast, and tidal gauges to accurately measure the local sea level as it accelerates and changes.4

Created with Highcharts 6.1.3


Causes & Complications

Why Are Sea Levels Rising?

While there are four causes of sea level rise in New Jersey, the slowing of the Gulf Stream5 and land sinkage6 are the largest contributors. Because the Gulf Stream has slowed down, it leaves more water on the East Coast. This, combined with sinking land, makes New Jersey particularly vulnerable to an increased rate of sea level rise in the future. Click here to learn more about these causes.

Gulf Stream
How Slowing of the Gulf Stream Increases Sea Level Rise
How Land Sinkage Increases Sea Level Rise

Most flooding happens in the fall and winter

The highest tides in New Jersey occur during nor’easters. These wintertime storms push more water to the coast, raising high tides even higher, especially when combined with an increased gravitational pull from the moon. In places like Atlantic City, these tides are typically over a foot and a half higher than normal high tides.1 Add that to the 12 inches of sea level rise since 1950, and you end up with flooding even on sunny days.

Solutions aren’t simple

In New Jersey, the sea level is rising more rapidly than some coastal areas because as the ocean water is rising, the land is sinking and shorelines are eroding. Solutions can be complicated because with 2.5 million people living in 5 counties along the Atlantic Ocean,7 New Jersey has many towns and cities to solve sea level rise and flooding issues for. In addition, the state must preserve many species of wildlife that rely on coastal habitats.

The shore is the state’s most prominent tourist destination and the life-blood of the economy. However, the concentrated development that characterize New Jersey’s coast leaves many people and structures dangerously vulnerable to subsiding and eroding coastlines, increasingly frequent and severe storms, and growing flood risks associated with sea-level rise.

David Kutner, Planning Manager, New Jersey Future
David Kutner


What's the Future of Sea Level Rise?

In the last decade, the speed at which New Jersey’s sea level is rising has increased, and is now rising by as much as 1 inch every 5 years.1 Around Atlantic City, it took the sea level 26 years to rise by 6 inches.1 Scientists forecast that in just the next 13 years, the sea level will have risen by another 6 inches.8

Scientists are not certain how fast the ocean will warm and ice will melt. They expect water levels to continue to rise faster, but are not sure just how fast. Therefore scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have made predictions based on ranges from low to high.

Below you can see the range of the NOAA and USACE high and intermediate forecasts for various locations around New Jersey.9 Currently, the USACE high forecast, seen as the darkest red line, is the most likely projection.

SLR Speeding up - New Jersey
SLR Speeding up - New Jersey
Sandy Hook
Created with Highcharts 6.1.3Sandy Hook Sea Level Rise Forecasts


Why Are Floods More Frequent?

When the ocean rises high enough, high tides cause flooding even on sunny days. Even though the sea level has only risen by about 3 and a half inches, tidal flooding has increased by 319% in some areas of New Jersey since 2000.10

How sea level rise affects New Jersey

Flooding even when there’s no rain

Drainage systems are designed to channel excess rainwater from the streets and drain it into the sea. But with the pressure from rising sea levels and higher tides, seawater can get pushed into these pipes and spill out into the streets. This causes flooding even on days without rain.

Drain A
Drainage Under Normal Tidal Conditions
Drainage With High Tide / Sea Level Rise

Increased storm surge flooding

Unfortunately, slightly higher sea levels make hurricanes even more damaging. Just a few more inches of sea level rise allow a hurricane to push more water onto the land, even if the hurricane itself doesn’t make landfall.

Hurricane Sandy, 2012

Higher sea levels create a higher launching point for storm surge. These small changes in sea level rise are enough to turn what were 100-year storm surges into much more frequent events. In fact, in a third of 55 coastal sites studied throughout the US, 100-year storm surges will be 10-year or more frequent events by 2050.11

This means that in many coastal cities, if you bought a house with a 30-year mortgage today, by the time you paid off your mortgage you could be experiencing extreme 100-year storm surges ten times more frequently due to sea level rise alone. This does not include the added risk of more intense storms resulting from warmer water and a warmer atmosphere, which could further increase storm surge damage.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City and caused $37 billion in damages to the state.12 Without sea level rise, Hurricane Sandy’s 8.9 foot storm surge would have been much lower.13

Hurricane Sandy, 2012

Since 1978 New Jersey has received a greater amount in payouts from the National Flood Insurance Program than all but 2 other states – Texas which is 30 times our size, and Louisiana, which hosted Katrina, the most costly hurricane in US history. One coastal town we’ve worked with received NFIP payouts greater than 43 other states.

David Kutner, Planning Manager, New Jersey Future
David Kutner


What's at Risk in New Jersey?

There’s a lot at risk from sea level rise and flooding in New Jersey, especially because the state has 141 miles of oceanfront that is host to not only cities and towns, but a complex ecosystem that is home to many species of wildlife.2 As sea levels continue to rise, some species are losing their habitats and face declining numbers.14 In addition to the oceanfront beaches that face the threat of erosion from increased ocean water levels, many bay communities are at risk. Many of Delaware Bay’s beaches are narrow, with wetlands immediately inland and could face land loss.15


Rising seas increase the speed of beach erosion, pulling more sand from the beach into sea. Replacing the sand is possible, but expensive.

Coastal Wetlands
Coastal Wetlands

Sea level rise can disrupt coastal wetlands, which puts important ecosystems in danger, threatens habitats, and leaves communities exposed to dangerous storm surge.

Homes & Cars
Homes & Cars

Storm surges or flooding can damage the underside of your car or the first level of your home.

In Ocean City there are 4,493 residential properties already at risk from repeated tidal flooding, by 2033 that number will increase to 6,627 as sea levels rise. In North Beach Haven, 1,826 properties at risk will turn into 2,565 within 15 years. In Sea Isle City there are 1,193 properties at risk, which will become 2,182. And in Atlantic City, there are 1,295 properties at risk, which will increase to 2,211 by 2033. Click here to explore other coastal areas in New Jersey that are at risk at FloodiQ.com.

New Jersey is spending over $2 billion

Some cities have sufficient resources to deal with this problem while others do not. New Jersey will need solutions at the individual, local, state, and federal levels to protect its coastal communities.

Jersey City
Jersey City

Jersey City has a $2 billion coastal defense plan to prevent catastrophic flooding,16 but may join forces with Hoboken for an even more extensive plan.17

City of Hoboken
City of Hoboken

Hoboken has a $230 million project underway to address storm surge flooding, but plans are in the works for an even costlier plan with Jersey City.18

City of Atlantic City
City of Atlantic City

Atlantic City has a $50 million restoration and improvement project underway, $34 million of which will build a seawall.19

What can you do?

Individuals, mayors, legislators, governors, and Congress can work together to build protections before flooding, to build back stronger after flooding, and to create plans that future-proof our communities. Click here to see what solutions can help protect your home or what your community can do.