The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has received a $790,000 grant from the Houston Endowment for a ground-breaking project to map and evaluate the effects of sea level rise on the Upper Texas Coast and develop tools to address this critical issue.

The program is the first of its kind in Texas to forecast changes to the environment caused by sea level rise and also examine the socio-economic impacts and public policy options for living with a rising sea. Since 1908, the tide gauge at Pier 21 on Galveston Island has recorded a rise in relative sea level of about two feet. Roughly one foot of this rise is due to a global increase in ocean water volume caused by climate change with the remainder caused by local land subsidence. The amount of relative sea-level rise across the greater Houston area varies because of differences in how much the land is sinking.

“If you want to stick your head in the sand about the implications of climate change along the Upper Texas Coast, you are likely to drown,” said Dr. Larry McKinney, HRI Executive Director. “Climate change and land subsidence have effectively doubled the relative sea level rise along the Upper Texas Coast and we have billions of dollars in natural and manmade infrastructure at risk.”

HRI was selected for the undertaking because of its multi-disciplinary “Harte Model” structure that integrates the necessary science, policy and economics expertise to carry out a project of such broad scope.

“We’re proud that, through the HRI, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi can provide the necessary knowledge to make Texas and the entire Gulf Coast better prepared; not just years from now but for decades to come,” said Dr. Flavius Killebrew, President/CEO of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

By developing and disseminating data and information for addressing the impacts of sea level rise, the project will also create opportunities for local innovation and help people make more informed investments; whether it is the purchase of an individual home or the construction of new neighborhoods, schools and business centers.

“Houston Endowment is pleased to partner with the Harte Research Institute to address this critical issue,” said Elizabeth Love, Program Officer.