PI: Daniel Limonadi


Benjamin Hamlington, Tony Lee, David Bekaert, Eric Larour, Thomas Frederikse, Brett Buzzanga, Simran Sangha


Changes in sea level are impacting communities across the globe on an almost daily basis through increased erosion, greater saltwater intrusion, more frequent high-tide flooding, and higher storm surge. Expensive decisions - both in economic and societal terms - are already being made by a great diversity of stakeholders planning for current and ongoing sea level rise. This diversity imposes requirements on the scientific information that is needed for decision-making efforts. Increasingly, stakeholders want guidance on what sea level will be at a specific location and at a specific time in the future, including at timescales (seasonal to decadal) that are shorter than typically provided in summary assessments. Failure of scientists and our programmatic structures supporting them to recognize these needs, along with the confrontation of an ever-changing landscape of current scientific knowledge, stakeholders often turn towards consultants or “bridge” companies to provide useful sea level information for planning efforts, removing scientists from the information flow of the decision-making process. Lack of engagement in this process makes it difficult for scientists to understand what is “useful” information and develop systems and tools that can improve decision-making support.

Expected Significance

In this prototyping Research-to-Operations (RtoO) project, we seek to begin to address many of the above challenges and improve the flow of information from scientist to end-user. In particular, we will work to extend the science produced by the NASA Sea Level Change Team (N-SLCT) and take the first steps on the path to operationalize this science information by establishing and co-developing data products and pipelines to our federal partner, NOAA. In doing so, we expect to increase the impact of the N-SLCT, help bridge the gap in RtoO activities, and create an exemplar interagency effort (NASA + NOAA) that can have a positive impact on the nation. We will focus on three threads of information that have been identified as foundational by NOAA for the products and services that they provide: 1) short-term (seasonal to decadal) predictions of sea level, 2) projections of longer-term sea level rise, and 3) high-resolution estimates of vertical land motion from InSAR.


  1. Establish a joint NOAA/NASA Sea Level Change Team working group to demonstrate the value of an interagency collaboration in meeting the challenges of sea level decision-making.
  2. Through regular discussion and co-development where possible, establish a link between the scientists on the N-SLCT and at NOAA to increase the impact and utility of science generated by the N-SLCT.
  3. Work with the N-SLCT scientists to understand projection output and develop a pathway for transferring these projections to NOAA for use in their products and services.
  4. Use the ECCO (Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean) adjoint dynamic sea level rise solution to generate predictions for pilot cities around the U.S. These predictions will be compared to and evaluated against output ongoing NOAA-funded prediction efforts.
  5. In coordination with NOAA, depending on the results from (2) and (4), develop a plan for operationalizing the ECCO adjoint approach for producing sea level predictions on a regular basis.
  6. Produce high-resolution vertical land motion maps using InSAR analysis with a view towards future operationalization.
  7. Improve guidance that accompanies projections, predictions and vertical land motion estimates to better meet end-user needs

Deliverables (e.g. Datasets, Tools)

InSAR vertical land motion map for 1 or 2 high priority locations jointly identified by NASA and NOAA, and maturing algorithms for producing those maps.

Documented and defined pathway for transferring correctly formatted and scoped VLM data to NOAA for use in their operational products and services.

ECCO adjoint dynamic sea level rise solution for 1-2 pilot city location agreed upon by NASA and NOAA.

Documented results from prediction evaluation effort comparing ECCO-approach to ongoing NOAA-funded projects.

Documented and defined pathway for transferring correctly formatted and scoped N-SLCT projections to NOAA for use in their operational products and services.

Updated implementation plan and costs for ongoing development of both partnership between NASA and NOAA and improved research-to-operations pathways.

Conference presentation summarizing project approach and results to date.

Datasets Used

Projection outputs of the N-SLCT science team, ECCO, North American Multi-Model Ensemble outputs, Sentinel 1 INSAR data.