Among the many advocacy actions that Resilient Shore engages in, we are creating a digital library of key resources addressing sea level rise. This page contains summaries and links to policy and government documents for San Rafael, Marin County, the State of California, and relevant national and international case studies. We welcome you to share additional useful and timely resources with us!
August 7, 2020 by Will Houston
Marin County and the North Bay could see the worst traffic delays in the Bay Area as highways become more prone to flooding, according to a new Stanford University study.
Published this week in the Science Advances peer-reviewed journal, the study assessed how a combination of sea-level rise, tides and storm surges in the next 20 years would affect the Bay Area’s existing traffic jams if left unaddressed.
While the North Bay doesn’t have the most flooding compared to other areas, the flooding occurs at critical connection points where few if any alternative routes exist, said study coauthor Jenny Suckale, an assistant geophysics professor at Stanford.
That’s bad news for Marin.
What’s being done to protect Marin’s coastal lands from the effects of climate change?
In the near term, a timeline from now until 2030, sea level is projected to rise between 10 and 12 inches over current tidal heights. By midcentury, areas of Marin will likely see a 20-inch increase.
“It is not surprising that Marin is very vulnerable,” says Chris Choo, the county’s principal planner for the public works department and project manager for BayWAVE. “And it is not vulnerable just in a couple of places. The way this county is configured, sea level rise is going to be a permanent problem.”
Working to involve Marin’s residents, county officials developed two community outreach programs — Bay Waterfront Adaptation and Vulnerability Evaluation (BayWAVE) and Collaboration: Sea Level Marin Adaptation Response Team (C-SMART). While BayWAVE focuses on adaptations for the bay side of the county, C-SMART concentrates on strategies for our peninsula’s open coast.
To understand how rising seas will likely affect Marin, the planners aligned the county’s infrastructure data with the statewide sea level study “Our Coast, Our Future” (OCOF). The OCOF program is an ongoing collaboration between Petaluma-based Point Blue Conservation Science group, the U.S. Geological Survey and a number of other agencies. It uses various probability models to determine how sea level change will alter California’s coastal region.
Flooding associated with high tides and storms already impacts infrastructure and disrupts people’s lives on a recurring basis.
These impacts are expected to increase in frequency and severity as sea level rise accelerates. Marin Bay Waterfront Adaptation Vulnerability Evaluation (BayWAVE) is evaluating the extent of impacted assets, assess the sensitivity and adaptability of selected assets and working with the local cities and towns to plan implementation of adaptation strategies.
There are two main sea level rise assessment projects that are underway in the County – one along the coast (C-SMART) and one along the bayside (BayWAVE). But there are other community engagement and educational outreach programs that you can learn about here. You can join the effort by subscribing here, staying informed, and contributing your ideas and thoughts.
“[This Atlas presents] a science-based framework for developing climate adaptation strategies that are appropriate to our diverse shoreline settings and that take advantage of natural processes in the Bay.”
The Adaptation Atlas, based on dividing the Bay Area into 30 “OLUs” (Operational Land Units), is a phenomenally rich resource containing detailed maps delineating the geology, topography, ecology, history, density, bathymetry, hydrology, future flood risk, and elevation of the 30 OLUs relative to tides and wind waves.
As various adaptation strategies are described and proposed, the Atlas maps out which areas would be suitable for different measures, including (but not limited to) expanded eelgrass beds, mudflats, beaches, and tidal marshes; establishing polders, ecotone and super levees, flood walls, sea walls, bulkheads, and greenwater infrastructure; reconnecting creeks to baylands; different types of grey infrastructure, and policy, regulatory, and financial measures.
Each OLU is evaluated for a mix of selected adaptation measures – recommendations for Corte Madera, OLU-2 are contained on Pages 120-121; for San Rafael, OLU-3, on Pages 122-123; for Gallinas, OLU-4, on Pages 124-125 (and so on).
Shinnecock Indians are using nature-based solutions to calm the waves and restore the beaches that protect their lands.
By Somini Sengupta and
SHINNECOCK NATION, Southampton, N.Y. — A maritime people who once spanned a large swath of the eastern Long Island shore, the Shinnecock Indians have been hemmed into a 1.5-square-mile patch of land on the edge of a brackish bay. Now, because of climate change, they’re battling to hold on to what they have left.
Rising seas are threatening to eat away at the Shinnecock lands. But the tribe is using everything at its disposal to calm the waves and restore a long, slim beach at the edge of Shinnecock Bay: dredged sand, sea grasses, beach grasses, boulders, oyster shells.
It’s a forever battle. Climate change is swelling and heating the world’s oceans at an accelerating pace.
What the Shinnecock are doing on their land represents what climate adaptation experts call nature-based solutions. Several such efforts are underway elsewhere. New York City’s oyster reefs are being restored to protect Manhattan from storm surges. Marsh grasses have been planted to control erosion in parts of the Florida panhandle. Mangroves have been restored in Vietnam to protect coastal communities from sea level rise and storm surges.
Case Study: The Northern Gulf of Mexico
The NGOM SSC is a partnership focused on sea-level rise and inundation in the northern Gulf of Mexico, a geographic area defined as the coastal counties from the Pearl River to the Suwannee River.
A broad array of partners working along the science-to-stewardship continuum make up the Cooperative; the NGOM SSC Cooperative partner base includes academics, non-governmental organizations, and other federal, state, and local government departments.