Sea-level rise viewer for American Samoa: A co-developed visualization and planning tool

View down a white sandy beach overhung with palms, being lapped by sparkling waters with steep green mountains further along the coast
American Samoa has narrow strips of low lands surrounding steep inland interiors, making infrastructure particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise impacts.

American Samoa is vulnerable to sea-level rise in part due to the steep terrain of its islands. This terrain requires the majority of the islands’ villages and infrastructure to be located along thin strips of coastal land. The situation is worsened by the recently recognized rapid sinking of the islands, which was triggered by the 2009 Samoa earthquake and is predicted to last for decades. This subsidence is estimated to lead to roughly twice as much sea-level rise by 2060 as what is already predicted from climate change alone. As a result, the timeline of coastal impacts in American Samoa will be decades ahead of similar island communities in the Pacific. Despite this urgency, decision-makers in the region lack the necessary projections and tools to plan for rising sea levels in American Samoa.

Project researchers will work with the Department of the Interior and community stakeholders in American Samoa on a series of workshops to co-develop information and tools that will empower decision-makers to formulate optimal coastal management plans. Specifically, the research team will produce sea-level rise projections for American Samoa that combine the effects of subsidence and climate change. The team will also map the spatial extent and frequency of high-tide and wave-driven coastal flooding anticipated in coming decades. Finally, project outcomes will be provided to stakeholders via a co-produced web application: the American Samoa Sea-Level Rise Viewer. This tool will provide access to sea-level rise information in formats and resolutions that directly address stakeholder needs.





Phil Thompson
Associate Director of UH Sea Level center, UH Mānoa


Carla Baizeau
Department of Oceanography, UH Mānoa


Kelley Anderson Tagarino
Extension Specialist, American Samoa Community College
Justin E. Stopa
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Curt Storlazzi
Research Geologist, USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center


Scott Burch
National Park of American Samoa
Lydia Falefine-Nomura
Office of Insular Affairs
Brian Peck
Aufa’i Areta
American Samoa Community College Land Grant Program
Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System
Richard Ray NASA Goddard
Jeffrey Danielson Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center