Potential impacts of increased coastal flooding in California due to sea-level rise
- 2.3k Downloads
California is likely to experience increased coastal flooding and erosion caused by sea-level rise over the next century, affecting the state’s population, infrastructure, and environment. As part of a set of studies on climate change impacts to California, this paper analyzes the potential impacts from projected sea-level rise if no actions are taken to protect the coast (a “no-adaptation scenario”), focusing on impacts to the state’s population and infrastructure. Heberger et al. (2009) also covered effects on wetlands, costs of coastal defenses, and social and environmental justice related to sea-level rise. We analyzed the effect of a medium-high greenhouse gas emissions scenario (Special Report on Emissions Scenarios A2 in IPCC 2000) and included updated projections of sea-level rise based on work by Rahmstorf (Science 315(5810): 368, 2007). Under this scenario, sea levels rise by 1.4 m by the year 2100, far exceeding historical observed water level increases. By the end of this century, coastal flooding would, under this scenario, threaten regions that currently are home to approximately 480,000 people and $100 billion worth of property. Among those especially vulnerable are large numbers of low-income people and communities of color. A wide range of critical infrastructure, such as roads, hospitals, schools, emergency facilities, wastewater treatment plants, and power plants will also be at risk. Sea-level rise will inevitably change the character of California’s coast; practices and policies should be put in place to mitigate the potentially costly and life-threatening impacts of sea-level rise.
KeywordsCensus Block Environmental Justice Federal Emergency Management Agency Coastal Flooding California Coast
Major funds were provided by the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program. Additional support came from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the California Ocean Protection Council.
The authors wish to thank the scientists and engineers at Philip Williams and Associates for their analysis on coastal flood and erosion hazards. Thanks to Dr. David L. Revell, Robert Battalio, Jeremy Lowe, Justin Vandever, Brian Spear, and Seungjin Baek.
Thanks also go to Noah Knowles, Dan Cayan, Mary Tyree, and Peter Bromirski, and Reinhard Flick of Scripps Institution of Oceanography for much of the oceanographic data.
We owe thanks to a number of agencies and organizations for sharing data and expertise: Philip Pang at the Army Corps of Engineers, Eric Simmons and Ray Lenaburg at FEMA, Reza Navai, Vahid Nowshiravan, and Barry Padilla at the California Department of Transportation, Jennifer Dare at NOAA, and a number of others.
Finally, we are especially grateful for our reviewers: Michael Hanemann, Arlene Wong, June Gin, and several anonymous reviewers who helped to improve the report on which this paper is based.
- Airports Council International (2008) Airport traffic reports. Microsoft Excel spreadsheet document at http://www.aci-na.org/stats/stats_traffic.
- Allison I et al (2009) The Copenhagen diagnosis: 2009, updating the world on the latest climate science. The University of New South Wales Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC), Sydney, 60 ppGoogle Scholar
- Battalio R, Baek S, Revell D (2008) California coastal response to sea level rise: coastal base flood elevation estimates. Technical memorandum to the Pacific Institute. Phil Williams and Associates, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
- California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (2006) California licensed health care facilities. Digital data files from California Spatial Information Library. http://casil.ucdavis.edu/casil/.
- Cayan D, Tyree M, Dettinger M, Hidalgo H, Das T, Maurer E, Bromirski P, Graham N, Flick R (2009) Climate change scenarios and sea level rise estimates for California. 2008 Climate change scenarios assessment. California Climate Change Center paper CEC-500-2009-014-F.Google Scholar
- Christensen M (2008) “Protecting America’s busiest port from seismic impacts.” Presentation at University of Southern California’s Megacities Workshop. Los Angeles, California. November 10, 2008. http://mededonline.hsc.usc.edu/research/workshop-2008/session-5-christensen.htm
- Farris MT II (2008) Are you prepared for a devastating port strike in 2008? Transportation Journal, Winter 2008Google Scholar
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) (2006) Hazards U.S. Multi-Hazard (HAZUS-MH). Computer application and digital data files on 2 CD-ROMs. Jessup, Maryland. www.fema.gov/plan/prevent/hazus/
- Flick RE, Murray JF, Ewing L (1999) Trends in U.S. tidal datum statistics and tide range: a data report atlas. Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
- Gleick PH, Maurer EP (1990) Assessing the costs of adapting to sea-level rise: a case study of San Francisco Bay. Pacific Institute, OaklandGoogle Scholar
- Heberger M, Cooley H, Herrera P, Gleick P, Moore E (2009) The impacts of sea level rise on the California coast. California Climate Change Center, Sacramento, California. Paper CEC-500-2009-024-FGoogle Scholar
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2000) Special report on emissions scenarios. Cambridge University Press, UK. 570 ppGoogle Scholar
- Knowles N (2009) Potential inundation due to rising sea levels in the San Francisco Bay region. California Climate Change Center paper CEC-500-2009-023-F. Sacramento, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
- Meehl GA, Stocker TF, Collins WD, Friedlingstein P, Gaye AT, Gregory JM, Kitoh A, Knutti R, Murphy JM, Noda A, Raper SCB, Watterson IG, Weaver AJ, Zhao Z-C (2007) Global climate projections. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Metropolitan Transportation Commission (2004) Regional goods movement study for the San Francisco Bay area. Oakland, California. 26 pages. http://www.mtc.ca.gov/pdf/rgm.pdf
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (2004) Population trends along the Coastal United States: 1980–2008. Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (2009) NOAA Sea Levels Online, http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?stnid=9414290
- National Research Council (1987) Responding to changes in sea level: engineering implications. National Academies Press, Washington, DC, www.nap.edu/openbook/0309037816/html/
- Neumann JE, Hudgens D, Herr JL, Kassakian J (2003) Market impacts of sea level rise on California coasts. Appendix VIII in: Global climate change and California: potential implications for ecosystems, health, and the economy. California Energy Commission, PIER program. Publication Number 500-03-058CFGoogle Scholar
- Revell DL, Battalio R, Spear B, Ruggiero P, Vandever J (2011) A Methodology for Predicting Future Coastal Hazards due to Sea-level Rise on the California Coast. Climatic Change, doi: 10.1007/s10584-011-0315-2
- TeleAtlas (2008) TeleAtlas Dynamap, Geographic data files. Lebanon, New HampshireGoogle Scholar
- Titus J, Park R, Leatherman S, Weggle J, Greene M, Brown S, Gaunt C, Trehan M, Yohe G (1992) Greenhouse effect and sea level rise: the cost of holding back the sea. Coast Manag 19:219–233Google Scholar
- United States Census Bureau (2000) Census 2000 Summary File 3 (SF3). http://factfinder.census.gov
- United States Department of Transportation (2006) Top 50 U.S. Foreign trade freight gateways by value of shipments: 2005. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Washington, D.C. www.bts.gov/programs/international/
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (2008) EPA geospatial data access project. Digital data files, accessed November 2008. http://www.epa.gov/enviro/geo_data.html
- United States Geological Survey (2006) Flood hazards—a national threat. 2-page factsheet at http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2006/3026/2006-3026.pdf
- Yohe G (1989) The cost of not holding back the sea: Phase 1 economic vulnerability. In: The potential effects of global climate change on the United States. Report to Congress. Appendix B: Sea Level Rise. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA 230-05-89-052Google Scholar