Have you wondered what parts of the Humboldt Bay area are most threatened by sea level rise? According to this new report by Aldaron Laird of Trinity Associates, Highway 101 and 255, as well as the communities of King Salmon, Fields Landing, and Fairhaven could all be under water by 2050. Also at risk are municipal water and wastewater lines, electrical distribution infrastructure, gas lines, fiber-optic communications lines, and approximately 10,000 acres of agricultural land. By 2100, rail lines, marinas, boatyards, and docks will be at risk. How will we plan for the future?

Photo: NCRA railroad tracks behind sea wall, damaged during winter storms of 2015 and 2016. 

 

On October 7, the City of Arcata will host a trail walk at 1 pm and a presentation at 2:30pm at the Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center to discuss potential effects of sea level rise, and strategies the City Council is considering in response.

 

Click HERE for more info on Arcata's 

7/17/17

 

Two Bay Area counties sued 37 oil, gas and coal companies Monday asserting the companies knew their fossil fuel products would cause sea level rise and coastal flooding but failed to reduce their greenhouse gas pollution.

The lawsuit was part of a coordinated litigation attack by Marin, San Mateo County and the city of Imperial Beach.

 

The lawsuit, filed in Marin County Superior Court, alleges that “major corporate members of the fossil fuel industry, have known for nearly a half century that unrestricted production and use of their fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate.”

 

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Arcata and Eureka are beginning to prepare for sea level rise, and there will be opportunities for the public to weigh in throughout 2017. Reducing emissions to slow the rate of climate change is more critical then ever, but we must also plan for sea level rise, since the Humboldt Bay area is experiencing sea level rise at twice the rate of the rest of the state due to tectonic subsidence. 

1/30/17

 

Last week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “NOAA” issued a new 44-page report, “Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States.”  They have created a new projection line for as much as 8.2 feet (2.5 meters) by 2100, the red colored line shown above, based upon a comprehensive assessment of the latest science primarily focused on Greenland and Antarctica. Eight feet of higher sustained sea level will be catastrophic for almost every coastal community in the world.

 

What makes this so hard to accept is that we have never had this level of sea level rise in all of human civilization. The last time sea level was higher than present was 120,000 years ago. Then it reached about 25 feet higher than present (7-8 meters). Based on the current temperature levels, we will almost certainly reach that height. The question is how soon. That does depend on how aggressively we work to reduce the level of greenhouse gases – largely carbon dioxide. In all my talks and briefings, I try to leave two takeaways:

 

  1. To slow rising sea level and the other effects of climate change, we must reduce greenhouse gases as quickly as possible. However, regardless of the fact that we can slow the rise, we can not stop it in the coming decades. The ice melting and the sea rising have passed a “tipping point” and will continue for centuries.
  2. We must begin planning and adapting to higher sea level NOW! That would be the smart thing to do recognizing the new record flooding in coastal areas, as a result of more severe storms, record rainfall, and extreme high tides, all compounded by rising oceans.

 

A few places are beginning the process to look at how to adapt to higher sea level — in fact there are dozens of communities around the US and globally that are starting to take this huge challenge quite seriously. This new NOAA Report and the 8 foot red line should add urgency to begin the process and to think ahead — so that our investments in buildings and infrastructure are truly good investments, ones that will protect us today and be a good foundation for communities of the future.

 

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