American Samoa Sea Level Rise Viewer

Narrow strip of land holds buildings perched between a blue wave-capped ocean and steep green mountains
A scenic view from American Samoa illustrates the vulnerability of low-lying coastal communities. (Photo credit: Carla Baizeau)

American Samoa is vulnerable to sea-level rise, in part due to the steep terrain of its islands which requires that most infrastructure be located along thin strips of coastal land. The situation was worsened by a large 2009 earthquake that triggered active, rapid sinking of the islands and is predicted to last for decades. It is estimated that this subsidence will lead to roughly twice as much sea-level rise by 2060 as what is already predicted from climate change alone. Despite this situation, decision-makers in the region lack the necessary projections and tools to plan for the impacts of rising sea levels on coastal communities, infrastructure, and the environment of American Samoa.

Project researchers worked with the Department of the Interior and community stakeholders in American Samoa to co-develop information and tools that will inform decision-makers’ coastal management plans. The team has generated sea-level rise projections for American Samoa that combine the effects of subsidence and climate change and co-produced an interactive web tool: the American Samoa Sea Level Rise Viewer. This tool provides user-friendly access to sea-level rise information in formats and resolutions that directly address stakeholder needs, enabling the community to visualize how the shoreline is likely to change from coastal flooding, sea-level rise, hurricane storm surge, and high tides. Future plans for the tool include adding the effects of wind and wave activity.





Phil Thompson
Director, University of Hawaiʻi Sea Level Center
Carla Baizeau
Dept of Oceanography, UH Mānoa
Kelley Anderson Tagarino
Hawaiʻi Sea Grant Extension Specialist, American Samoa Community College
Justin Stopa
Assoc. Professor, Dept of Ocean Resources and Engineering, UH Mānoa
Curt Storlazzi
Research Geologist, USGS