Coastal Policy Consulting and Research

As climate change impacts shorelines, coastal policies are even more important to surveyors.


art-coastalSea Level Rise (SLR) and Storm Surge present some of the largest threats that the earth (and all of the people on it) has ever faced.

Neumann (2015) estimated that the U.S. will suffer over $1 trillion dollars in SLR-related damage by 2100 if we continue with our current policies.

Dr. Nettleman, Professional Land Surveyor, has spent several years building SLR models to help local governments understand the threats to their communities and make good policy choices to increase resiliency.  As a Texas A&M Corpus Christi University professor, he continues to work with cities and counties to make good policy choices, and to plan for the inevitable.

Services include risk assessment, using custom time-periods (i.e. 25 years, 50 years, 100 years, etc), hypothetical policy modeling based on various scenarios, and appearances with community officials, town hall meetings, or planning boards to explain current threats and possible solutions to address those problems.



Dr. Nettleman, working with University of Florida, Florida Sea Grant, and several local governments, published articles about coastal policy planning in response to SLR and storm surge since 2010. Read summaries here and access complete articles through the links below each.

A Contemporary Review of Deficiencies Associated with Calculated Tidal Datums and Property Ownership Law

coastalbook1Coastal boundaries are in continual contention due to increasing population and increasing land values while the zone is exposed to increased risks from storm surge, sea level rise, and pollution. Property stakeholders since the beginning of the twentieth century have sought judicial clarifications of boundary ownership between exposed and submerged coastal ground. Judicial clarification involves definitions that use mean high or mean low tide determined by some form of technical methodology.

The early twentieth century court ruling of Borax v. Los Angeles (296 U.S. 10, 1935) was not the first case to do so, though it is widely considered as the inflection point where the court shifted from defining coastal boundaries in generic terms to setting concrete, scientifically based locations of the tidal boundary. While many lawyers and land surveyors agree that the Borax ruling is flawed, it has become a foundation in such consideration of coastal boundaries by the courts in many states. One compelling unanswered question stemming from the Borax case is whether Borax fills the knowledge gap between legally defining the seaward property boundary and a reasonable surveyor being able to locate it on-the-ground?

Complete Article Here

GIS-Based Modeling of Sea Level Rise Effect on Coastal Property Management Policies

AArtClip03-16_006Florida is threatened by sea level rise (SLR) because of its low elevation and populous coastlines. With only a 0.3 m future water level rise, most of Florida’s natural beaches will disappear; with a 1.2 m rise, 2.4 million people will be displaced and 730,000 hectares of land lost. The only way to combat this threat is through coastal policy making. Currently, counties in Florida have no way to choose “good” policies due to the lack of needed information. Using high-resolution digital elevation models (DEM) derived from airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) measurements, parcel data, and beach transects from the Army Corps of Engineers, the effects of Sea Level Rise (SLR) on two study areas in Key West (Monroe County) and Pinellas County were analyzed in this study, under three policy scenarios: armoring prohibition, armoring, and relocation (rolling easements).

To better address the SLR uncertainty, a range of SLR estimates from 0.15 m to 1.35 m, in 0.15 m increments, was used to simulate the three policy options. Each policy scenario was considered in view of selected primary criteria for each policy, obtained from literature and simulating them using ArcGIS. The results show that Key West would be rapidly inundated by rising waters, leaving little room for “relocation” but the mainland of Pinellas would be inundated much more slowly, allowing for progressive policy options to be implemented.


Complete Material Here