Coastal walks highlight the reality of future sea level rise

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Woman standing in garden
Denise Valenti, Office of Communications
May 2, 2022

As the Earth warms, sea levels continue to rise, throwing many of our coastal communities in potential jeopardy.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy inundated Weber Avenue in Sayreville, New Jersey, with 18 feet of water. If the Earth continues to warm unabated, this avenue is projected to be permanently under water in less than 100 years.

Christina Gerhardt, the Currie C. and Thomas A. Barron Visiting Professor in the Environmental Humanities in the High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI), recently led Princeton researchers, students and community members to the site as part of the High Water Line: New Jersey, a public-facing project that aims to illustrate the impact of urban sea level rise.

“I had been thinking about how we can reach a broader audience with regard to sea level rise,” Gerhardt said. “I wanted participants to have a sense of the inundation, and I wanted people to be physically involved.”

“You can talk about x number of feet of sea level rise, but when you actually see where the water might come from in the next five years, or decade, or 50 years, that makes it all the more real to people and can drive them to action,” added Aaron Shkuda, program manager for the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities.

Gerhardt will hold a panel discussion on the subject on May 4, 2022. It will be held in person and on Zoom at noon. Registration information is available through the High Water Line: New Jersey website.

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