Thursday, March 12, 2009

Report Assesses Impacts of Sea-Level Rise

The report, The Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on the California Coast, concludes that sea-level rise will inevitably change the character of the California coast, and that adaptation strategies must be evaluated, tested, and implemented if the risks identified in the report are to be reduced or avoided.

This image of the Ventura coast was taken from the interactive map on the Pacific Institute website. This shows the increased risk of coastal flooding with 1.4m sea level rise.

Statewide impacts include:

A 1.4 meter sea‐level rise will put 480,000 people at risk of a 100‐year flood event, given today’s population.

A wide range of critical infrastructure, such as roads, hospitals, schools, emergency facilities, wastewater treatment plants, power plants, and more will also be at increased risk of inundation in a 100‐year flood event. This infrastructure at risk includes:

  • Nearly 140 schools;
  • 34 police and fire stations;
  • more than 330 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA)‐regulated hazardous waste facilities or sites, with large numbers in Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Los Angeles counties;
  • an estimated 3,500 miles of roads and highways and 280 miles of railways;
  • 30 coastal power plants, with a combined capacity of more than 10,000 megawatts;
  • 29 wastewater treatment plants, 22 on the San Francisco Bay and 7 on the Pacific coast, with a combined capacity of 530 million gallons per day; and
  • the San Francisco and Oakland airports.

Approximately 1,100 miles of new or modified coastal protection structures are needed on the Pacific Coast and San Francisco By to protect against coastal flooding. The total cost of building new or upgrading existing structures is estimated at about $14 billion (in year 2000 dollars).

The study also recommends a strategy for response to sea level rise, including restricting development in future innundation zones and phased abandonment of low‐ and medium‐density areas at high risk.

See also:

California panel urges ‘immediate action’ to protect from rising sea levels; Report recommends phased abandonment of coastal areas and moving state infrastructure inland,0,2405277.story