Sea level rise refers to the increase in sea levels both globally and locally. Global averages of sea levels have been increasing due to ocean warming and glacial ice melt. In addition, local sea level rise varies depending on local patterns of sinking land, coastal erosion, and ocean currents. In Beaufort and Port Royal, SC, local sea level has risen 6 inches since 1965 based on data collected at the nearest tide gauge in Fort Pulaski, GA. Some of the first impacts of sea level rise include higher King Tides, more nuisance flooding, and mixing of salt water with freshwater further upriver.
Storm surge typically impacts the same areas threatened by future sea level rise. Storm surge, unlike sea level rise, occurs only when a storm approaches the coast. Storm surge is the rise in water above the normal tide that occurs when winds from a storm push water towards the shore. It can result in coastal flooding and damage. Thus, if a storm occurs during high tide, a community will experience more storm surge than if the same storm had occurred during low tide.