Latest OPC Report to Serve as Guidance for State and Local Planning Efforts Along California Shorelines

This week, the Ocean Protection Council (OPC) released their latest findings on sea level rise in a report entitled, “Rising Seas in California: An Update on Sea-Level Rise Science”.

The OPC report was requested by the California Ocean Protection Council and the California Natural Resource Agency in collaboration with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, the California Energy Commission, and the California Ocean Science Trust. It includes new information on sea level rise projections based on different greenhouse gas emissions as well as an in-depth look at the contribution of the Antarctic ice sheet to rising sea levels.

One scenario mentioned in OPC’s press release  projects that with “very successful mitigation efforts” there is a 67% probability that San Francisco Bay Area will experience 1.0 to 2.4 feet of sea level rise by 2100. Without significant efforts, that range increases to 1.6 to 3.4 feet.  Another scenario looks at the Antarctic sea ice. While uncertain, the rapid loss of the Antarctic ice sheet could cause sea levels along California’s coast line to rise up to 10 feet by 2100.

Here are some key findings from the report:

  • The scientific understanding of sea level rise is advancing rapidly.
  • The rate of loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is increasing.
  • Mountain glaciers have enough ice to raise sea levels by only about 1.5 feet.
  • Ice loss from Antarctica causes higher sea level rise in California than the global average.
  • After 2050, projections of sea level rise increasingly depend on the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The magnitude and timing of when Antarctic Ice Sheet melt will start contributing to sea level rise are uncertain.
  • It is clear that sea levels are rising.

More than half of California’s population lives in coastal counties. Furthermore, miles of roads and railways, airports, seaports, power plants, wastewater treatment plants, businesses, and natural habitats are situated on or near the coast. Recognizing this, the OPC report emphasizes the increasing importance for cities, counties, and state agencies to incorporate long-term planning for sea level rise. The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) will use this OPC report as a scientific basis for developing implementation guidelines for compliance with Senate Bill 379, which requires cities and counties to incorporate climate change into their planning efforts.

BPC also recognizes the threat of sea level rise and its potential impact to the economic and environmental wellbeing of the San Francisco Bay region. We are pleased to announce that Louise Bedsworth, Deputy Director at OPR, will be at BPC’s 2017 Spring Summit to discuss the above-mentioned implementation guidelines. We encourage leaders in industry, commerce, and regional planning and infrastructure from across the wider Bay Area to attend this signature annual event to hear from OPR and other experts and decision-makers. For more information on this event, click here.

The Bay Planning Coalition is a non-profit organization well known for its advocacy and credibility in the San Francisco Bay Area corporate and environmental community. When we speak about an issue, legislators and regulators listen.” – John A. Coleman CEO