Using Lidar to Plan for Sea Level Rise

The Takeaway: Data and imagery of dikes and levees will help Oregon size up future flooding risks and prioritize wetland restoration projects.

Since the late 1800s, farmers in Oregon have been diking estuarine wetlands for their own agricultural benefit. With sea level rise imminent, knowing the location and condition of the dikes, as well as who is responsible for maintenance, is critical for making decisions about where dikes should be breached to allow wetlands to migrate and where dikes need to be maintained to protect private and public infrastructure.

The Oregon Coastal Management Program worked with the NOAA Office for Coastal Management to create a geospatial database of dikes and levees in Oregon’s major estuaries. Lidar data, aerial photography, and a variety of other map and information products were used. Nonprofit organizations and government agencies are using the dike inventory to prioritize future wetland restoration projects. The inventory is also being used to create more accurate predictions of what marshes and the coast would look like under different sea level rise scenarios. (2016)

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Partners: Coastal Management Fellowship, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, Oregon Coastal Management Program