Screen capture from the CanVis tool


Help people visualize the impact of potential projects or events with this downloadable photo-editing software. Users can modify "before" images of familiar scenes to show how they might look "after" a specified amount of sea level rise or after a proposed building project is complete.

The CanVis tool offers coastal managers the opportunity to visualize future changes related to sea level rise, storm surges, and flooding. The free visualization software, developed through a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NOAA, is easy to use and is compatible with most computers. City planners, business owners, and land managers can use CanVis to visualize possible future changes to ecosystems and the built environment, and to evaluate the visual impact of options for protecting homes, businesses, and recreational spaces.

By importing photographs from a place in their community, users are able to view the potential impacts of rising sea levels in that specific area. In order to paint a vivid picture of the potential change, users can add elements such as docks, houses, and marshlands from CanVis’s extensive object library. City planners have used these features to show possible impacts of rising sea level or storm surge on waterfront communities.

Using the CanVis tool allows users to better gauge how future coastal changes will impact their landscapes and communities, and help them to make smart decisions to prepare for and adapt to these potential changes.


  • Incorporate docks, buildings, rising waters, and other objects into user photographs to see potential scenarios
  • Enables users to quickly illustrate "what if" scenarios with this easy-to-use tool
  • Requires minimal computer knowledge
  • Extensive training aids and tutorials are available

The software is available for download from a Google folder (link also available at right, under "Tool Webpage"), which requires that you request access. The folder contains two ZIP files: (1) the EXE file for the CanVis application, plus a significant amount of supporting material; and (2) a ZIP file of visualization-ready coastal images (boats, docks, etc.) useful for organizations that manage coastal resources.  

Last modified
26 July 2019 - 11:50am