MEAN HIGH WATER


A project documenting
Sea Level Rise & Flooding in the Lowcountry


01 OVERVIEW ︎︎︎
02 LATEST ︎︎︎   
03 ARCHIVE ︎︎︎
04 RESOURCES ︎︎︎

ABOUT
Mean High Water (MHW) is a project documenting the impacts of sea level rise in and beyond the South Carolina Lowcountry. The title is in reference to the MHW tidal datum defined and maintained by the NOAA Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Service.

The tides of Charleston Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean are increasingly encroaching into the natural and built environment of Charleston and the Lowcountry. The rate of increase in the number of coastal flood events is alarming. Approximately 45% of all coastal floods observed in Charleston Harbor from 1953 through 2020 have occurred since 2010. An average of 18.8 coastal floods occurred per year in the 1990s. In the 2010s, the annual average was 42.4 coastal floods2, an increase of over 200%.

This project was started by photographer and engineer Jared Bramblett in 2020. It is intended to be an evolving and collaborative documentation of the impacts of rising seas and how communities are adapting to them. If you are interested in participating and submitting to the project, please reach out. All content on this site is copyrighted. If you are interested in using any content, please submit a request.


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CONTACT 
Jared Bramblett
jaredbramblett@gmail.com

All thoughts and opinions presented on this site are solely those of the author and are not necessarily those of any other organizations.

RECORDS & STATISTICS
Charleston Harbor, Cooper River Entrance1

Coastal Floods (>7-ft MLLW)2
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
89 (2019)
68 (2020)
58 (2015)
55 (2016)
46 (2017)

Major Coastal Floods (>8-ft MLLW)2
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
7 (2020)
6 (2015)
4 (2019)
3 (2018)
2 (2009)

Peak Tide Crests (MLLW)3
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2.
3.
4.
5.
09/22/1989 - 12.52-ft (Hugo)
08/11/1940 - 10.23-ft (Unnamed)
09/11/2017 - 9.92-ft (Irma)
10/08/2016 - 9.29 (Matthew)
01/01/1987 - 8.81-ft 

22 of the 36 (61%) major flood tides on record have occurred since 2015.3

Statistics current as of 1/31/2021

REFERENCES

1Tidal Benchmark Station - Charleston, Cooper River Entrance, SC - Station ID: 8665530
This is the homepage for the Charleston Tidal Benchmark, which serves as the main tide gauge referenced for tide levels in the Charleston region. The tidal datums (e.g. MLLW, MHW, MHHW) for Charleston are presented here. Lunar tide levels predictions can be found here, and the database of historic tide levels can be accessed here.

2NOAA Coastal Flood Event Database
This is a database maintained by the NOAA Coastal Services Center that tracks coastal flooding in Charleston and Savannah. It is referenced often throughout this site,  particularly when discussing the number of coastal floods that have occurred in Charleston Harbor.

3Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Center, Charleston, SC
Forecasts for water levels at the tidal bench mark based on meteorological predictions are presented here.

Announcing Mean High Water




I’m excited to launch Mean High Water. Since 2015, I’ve been documenting flooding throughout the Charleston region mainly through photography and mapping. While I’ve highlighted some of this work on my photography portfolio and in a few installations, I’ve wanted to create a platform with a greater focus on sea level rise and flooding. This project is very much a work in progress. Climate change, sea level rise, and flooding will present significant challenges throughout the Lowcountry. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to have collaborated with engineers, artists, scientists, students, policy makers, and others. Some of the most impactful projects result from these collaborations, and it will take more of them for us to address the challenges ahead. I hope that Mean High Water becomes a collaboration with other in the community. If you have any ideas or are interested in participating, please reach out.
© 2021