At A Glance


Delaware is called the “First State” for being the first to ratify the Constitution, but it also ranks “first in flatness.” Delaware has the lowest mean elevation of all the U.S. states, at 60 feet. Its elevation ranges from sea level at the ocean beaches to nearly 448 feet above sea level on Ebright Road, near the Pennsylvania state line.

Wave Divider


Delaware ranks as the second smallest state in size, with a total area of 1,982 square miles. The state is 96 miles long and ranges from 9 to 35 miles wide.

Wave Divider Hotspot

Delaware lies within a sea level rise “hotspot” where sea levels could rise faster and higher than elsewhere due to a combination of rising seas and sinking land. Sea level rise at Bowers Beach, Del., is climbing at a rate faster than anywhere else on the Atlantic coast.

Sources: DNREC, Delaware Geological Survey, U.S. Geological Survey

Sea Level Rise Header

America’s flattest state
prepares for the future

Delaware Outline

Although the Delaware coast lost sizable swaths of sandy beach, and some homes were swamped, the state largely dodged a demon named Sandy in October, as the freak storm saved its hardest punches for the New Jersey and New York coasts.

Yet the superstorm’s path of destruction along the East Coast has raised new questions and concerns about climate change, extreme weather, rising seas and what may lie ahead—a “new normal”—as UD’s Gerald Kauffman refers to it.


By the end of this century, 8 to 11 percent of Delaware could be underwater based on the state’s sea level rise planning scenarios of 0.5 meters (1.6 feet) and 1.5 meters (4.9 feet), respectively.

Source: Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC)