California Coastal Erosion Response to Sea Level Rise - Analysis and Mapping

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To assess the vulnerability of California's central and northern coast to sea level rise, the Ocean Protection Council (OPC) funded a study to support the Pacific Institute's economic analysis of the impact of flooding and erosion on coastal infrastructure and property.

ESA mapped future coastal erosion hazards resulting from sea level rise scenarios along the central and northern California coast. Collaborating with researchers at Scripps, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the California Energy Commission, ESA worked to develop a new method for assessing future erosion hazards. The ESA team collected geospatial and physical data to evaluate the geomorphic erosion responses of various backshore types by applying a total water level method. We compiled existing FEMA coastal flood elevations and updated them based on observed sea level rise and tidal datum changes, providing these estimates of the 100-year base flood elevation to the Pacific Institute. We organized an expert peer review team and collaborated with the Pacific Institute to identify economic impacts associated with coastal erosion hazards.

ESA's coastal analyses were an integral contribution to the first systematic assessment of the vulnerability of the California coast to sea level rise. This information is used to assist state policy makers in developing a strategy to adapt to climate change and sea level rise. ESA's report was published in March 2009. The full vulnerability assessment and hazard maps can be found on the Pacific Institute website.

Specialized Services

  • Coastal flood forecasting
  • Geomorphic assessments
  • Multi-objective flood management
  • Sea level rise adaptation studies and vulnerability assessments