Study Finds Traffic Pollution Worsens Symptoms in Asthmatic Children
Drop in Exports to Cut Japan Domestic Car Output

California Governor Issues Executive Order to Begin Planning for Adapting to Sea Level Rise

USGS Coastal Vulnerability Index for sea level rise for California. Click to enlarge.

Stating that the longer California delays planning and adapting to coming sea level rise the more expensive and difficult adaptation will be, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an Executive Order (S-13-08) directing a set of state agencies to begin those tasks.

Separately, a newly-released report by David Roland-Holst and Fredrich Kahrl at UC Berkeley—California Climate Risk and Responsefound that the state has $4 trillion in real estate assets, of which $2.5 trillion are at risk from extreme weather events, sea level rise, and wildfires, with a projected annual price tag of $300 million to $3.9 billion over this century, depending on how warm the world gets.

The report authors note that the most severe costs associated with coastal flooding and sea level rise will not be incurred until the latter third of the century when, depending on scenario, costs will reach $36-257 billion per decade by 2080 and $57-303 billion per decade by 2100. Those estimates do not include any potential value lost to wetland inundation.

The coastal areas at highest risk, the authors note, are concentrated around the state’s major bays, including the Humboldt, San Francisco, and Monterey Bays. Areas around Los Angeles and San Diego are also at very high risk. Many of these are areas with “quite significant commercial and residential real estate assets.” with wildfire adaptation, the best option may come in changing land-use patterns and land development of the coastal areas to insure that most of the future coastal development in California occurs in areas that are not flood prone.

—Roland-Holst and Kahrl

The Governor’s Executive Order directs the state agencies to request that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) convene an independent panel to complete the first California Sea Level Rise Assessment Report and to initiate within 60 days an independent sea level rise science and policy committee made up of state, national and international experts.

Agencies involved in the project include the California Resources Agency; the Department of Water Resources (DWR); the California Coastal Commission; the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC); California State Parks; and the California Energy Commission.

By 31 March 2009, the state is to hold a public workshop to gather policy-relevant information specific to California for use in preparing the Sea Level Rise Assessment Report and to raise state awareness of sea level rise impacts.

The final Sea Level Rise Assessment Report is to be completed as soon as possible but no later than 1 December 2010. The final Sea Level Rise Assessment Report will advise how California should plan for future sea level rise. The report should include:

  1. Relative sea level rise projections specific to California, taking into account issues such as coastal erosion rates, tidal impacts, El Niño and La Niña events, storm surge and land subsidence rates;

  2. The range of uncertainty in selected sea level rise projections;

  3. A synthesis of existing information on projected sea level rise impacts to state infrastructure (such as roads, public facilities and beaches), natural areas, and coastal and marine ecosystems; and

  4. A discussion of future research needs regarding sea level rise for California.

State agencies are to review the NAS assessment every two years or as necessary.

Other components of the order include:

  • Prior to release of the final Sea Level Rise Assessment Report from the NAS, all state agencies that are planning construction projects in areas vulnerable to future sea level rise are, for planning purposes, to consider a range of sea level rise scenarios for the years 2050 and 2100 in order to assess project vulnerability and, to the extent feasible, reduce expected risks and increase resiliency to sea level rise.

    All projects that are underway and/or are programmed for construction funding the next five years, or are routine maintenance projects may, but are not required to, account for these planning guidelines.

    Sea level rise estimates should also be used in conjunction with appropriate local information regarding local uplift and subsidence, coastal erosion rates, predicted higher high water levels, storm surge and storm wave data.

  • A report within 90 days to assess vulnerability of transportation systems to sea level rise that will include provisions for investment critical to safety, maintenance and operational improvements of the system and economy of the state.

  • By 30 June 2009, the California Resources Agency, through the Climate Action Team, shall coordinate with local, regional, state and federal public and private entities to develop a state Climate Adaptation Strategy.

    The strategy is to summarize the best known science on climate change impacts to California, assess California’s vulnerability to the identified impacts and then outline solutions that can be implemented within and across state agencies to promote resiliency.

    A water adaptation strategy will be coordinated by DWR with input from the State Water Resources Control Board, an ocean and coastal resources adaptation strategy will be coordinated by the OPC, an infrastructure adaptation strategy will be coordinated by the California Department of Transportation, a biodiversity adaptation strategy will be jointly coordinated by the California Department of Fish and Game and California State Parks, a working landscapes adaptation strategy will be jointly coordinated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and a public health adaptation strategy will be jointly coordinated by the California Department of Public Health and the California Air Resources Board, all as part of the larger strategy.

  • By 30 May 2009, OPR, in cooperation with the California Resources Agency, is to provide state land-use planning guidance related to sea level rise and other climate change impacts.

Rise in sea level in San Francisco Bay since 1900, relative to 1990 level. Click to enlarge. Source: Roland-Holst and Kahrl

The sea level gauge operating at Fort Point in San Francisco Bay (the country’s longest continuously operating gauge) has recorded a 7-inch rise in sea level over the 20th century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has projected that global sea levels will rise by between seven to 23 inches this century; some experts predict even higher rises.

The order notes that California’s water supply and coastal resources, including valuable natural habitat areas, are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise over the next century and could suffer devastating consequences if adaptive measures are not taken.

Further, billions of dollars in state funding for infrastructure and resource management projects are currently being encumbered in areas that are potentially vulnerable to future sea level rise.




California is facing a $28 billion budget hole over the next two years, and they're going to blow money on this?

I guess they don't buy Obama's claim that the oceans will recede now that he's been elected.


Californians could always move to nearby mountains.

Holland may have to add an extra 24 inches to their dikes every century.

Most of Maldives Islands residents may have more serious problems.

Part of South Florida residents will have a harder time to find a nearby mountain.

Will New Orleans become another Venice.

Seriously, at 7 to 24 inches per century, none of us will be around to see it. Will the following generations easily adapt and cope with it?

Henry Gibson

The example of Canute should be followed here similar to other California mandates; Just order the sea not to rise and that everybody use %100 renewable energy. ..HG..


CA will be very lucky to have only a $28B deficit in what they want to spend. I think the true figure will be about $60B. But that is only opinion.

I call it the deficit the state government seems to want. If they can't finance a deficit of that size it will, by definition, not occur.

Notice the wording. They arrive at the $2.5T 'at risk' by throwing in brush fires and extreme weather events such as the not infrequent flash floods in the mountains.

The $2.5T isn't a sea level rise figure.

There is a lot of expensive stuff along the coast in CA. But the CA shore is rather steep and CA is well above sea level. It isn't at all like Florida or the Louisiana bayous where the rise of a meter would seriously alter the shore.

But we see the way CA government works. Here they order reports about what might occur by 2050 or 2100 rushed to completion with milestones at 60 days, 90 days, by next March, next May, next June. And to finally wrap up in Dec, 2010.

Meanwhile all agencies are to assess anything they might or are doing in light of what that Dec, 2010 report might say.

Kudos Arnie. You just piled - LMG - $20M in overtime alone onto this years staggering deficit.


Apart from the paperwork this need not cost too much to implement. All they really need to do is identify areas at risk, and ban building anything in those areas that would incur a cost to protect or replace. Take this as following the old 'ounce of prevention = pound of cure' rule.

Of course this is the *Government* we're talking about here. ;^) They can always find ways to spend more on something than they need to. Remember those $10,000 ashtrays and toiletseats?

Pssst... this is NOT the real Guvenator. He was Erasered by foreign invaders who issued this false story. Really.


They need to figure out how to keep the place from burning down before they worry about sea level!!


?? How do we know that CA is not really sinking? Like Southern LA around New Orleans. Earthquakes move stuff around and up and down. No Satellite confirmations until 1980s?




First; does it really matter? The land sinking or the sea rising both produce the same danger of flooding to anyone foolish enough to build near the shore.

Second; even before satellites people needed information on how high one piece of land was in relation to another. It's called surveying- -it just takes a lot of gruntwork. If you think an area is sinking you do a Deformation Survey.

Thomas Lankester


Three points:

1) the Canute references are all A-B. He ordered a chair to be set out on the shore to show his sycophantic court that even a king (/ Govenator) CANNOT make the sea stop rising. Wise chap.

2) Whatever you attribute global warming to, we know from the geological record that the Earth does not behave like a linear system. It is not going to be a case of adding a few cm or m to the sea walls per century. The IPCC modelling of slow thermal diffusion through the ice sheets is simplistic in the extreme. Both the geological record (e.g. Heinrich events) and recent glaciological observations of glacial surges and moulins ( transferring heat and lubrication direct to the glacial base demonstrate that with the cryosphere we are dealing non-linear and a difficult to predict system.

3) remember the lessons of the Canvey Island and Catrina events - it is not the mean sea level position that gets you, it is the superposition of a storm / tidal surge.

Andrey Levin

So far, California voters in last plebiscite by margin of 2:1 voted down:

Proposition 7, which would have required that California’s electric utilities get half of their power from renewable sources by 2025.

Proposition 10, which would have created rebate incentives for the purchase of cars and trucks running on natural gas or other alternative fuels.

Plus they voted down about a year ago imposition of tax on oil companies to promote so called “low-carbon fuels”.

All Arnold’s initiatives are pretty safe to California budget no-go greenwash rubbish to please envirofreak’s sentiments.

Way to go, Arny.


Cali voters also voted IN Proposition 2 - ethical treatment for farm animals. Once again leading the nation and (if they get smart) the rest of the planet on ethics/health issues.

AND Voters approved Prop 1A the High Speed Rail project that will provide a 2.5 hour $55 trip between LA and San Francisco (and all other major Cali cities from San Diego to Sacramento.)

They voted DOWN the T Boone Pickens natural gas grab - Prop 10 because that's all it was. Non-renewable fossil fuel (T Boone's) for light transport. This was a major embarrassment for Sierra Club's early support of "Pickens Plan."

The Prop 7, proposal was voted down due to huge opposition to the costs. 46 newspapers opposed the measure pointing out that under current law, investor-owned utility companies must comply with an RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standard) of 20% by 2010 and there is no waiver for non-compliance. The rule should be extended to municipal/government owned utilities which get to skate on the RPS presently. Another case where government preaches what it will not practice.


Just another one his useless BS PR stunts to politically benefit Arnie. Since CA is basically bankrupt and certainly cannot afford to implement another of Arnie's publicity seeking initiatives and he obviously knows it.


Just another one his useless BS PR stunts to politically benefit Arnie. Since CA is basically bankrupt and certainly cannot afford to implement another of Arnie's publicity seeking initiatives.
He should be more worried NOW about the lack of technology to put out the CA fires than possible coastal errosion in the distant future.


California is agricultural. The map shows coastal damage. It does not show what happens with sea water intrusion into fresh water. The Oxnard/Camarillo area is one such area, of several. The water table is very close to the possibility of sea level intrusion level now. Saltwater intrusion would poison the farmlands of that area. I'm sure there are other AG areas in other US states, but this is one example I of which I have some awareness. True, coastal home are at risk, but so is your food supply.



1. It really does not matter. You will have to relocate further upcountry either way.

2. "Geodetic surveys have traditionally been used mainly for determining the absolute
displacements of selected points on the surface of the object with respect to some reference points that are
assumed to be stable." The last point is my point.

I would also conjecture that in 1905 or earlier the optical instruments were rather crude and inaccurate when compared to current versions from Leicha and Spectra Physics. So how accurate would a measurement 7 inches of drop or elevation be in 110 years?

Thanks for the link.


""Seriously, at 7 to 24 inches per century, none of us will be around to see it. Will the following generations easily adapt and cope with it?""

Spoken like a true first worlder.

I'd have to agree with Thomas lancaster. The IPCC predictions of how Greenland will melt are tenuous at best, and they freely admit this in their reports. We are not likely to see a gradual linear melting over centuries. When it goes, it might go fast. No one really knows for sure, but what we do know is that the Canadian Arctic is melting faster than most AGW scientists predicted 10 or 20 years ago, and right beside the Canadian Arctic is Greenland. It's not much of a jump in logic.... especially since most of Greenland's land is not very high in altitude at all, it's altitude is from the kilometers-thick layers of ice one it.

I'm worried because our property is at about 7 m elev I think, not totally sure. I'm not worried about it flooding in my lifetime ... I'm worried about it's value dropping to zero in a decade or two when it becomes clear that Greenland is melting and hysteria sets in. And if needed, future owners could always dump 2 meters of earth on it to raise it up ... but then what happens our well water when the salt water moves in?

You drink the brine... and pee a lot.


Hard to believe they didn't nominate Arnold for the Nobel sooner.



If you're 7m above current sea level and not too close to shore to suffer from erosion, you have no worries for a few generations to come. Millions (100s) will be under water before you are.

As for property value, the current WB economic trumoil is here and will affect most of us for many years.

stas peterson

Since the oceans may be rising at 5-10 mm (2-4)inches per century, there is little immediate concern. It will take an awful long time to lap up to the lawn of the Al Gore's sea-level mansion that he purchased on the San Francisco seafront just last year.

If Algore doesn't believe his own propaganda, why should you?

Maybe its a good idea that the Guvernator is worried what the seafront will look like in five thousand years. It doesn't hurt to plan. But in that time we should be in the next Ice Age, and the sea level will be falling as water is deposited on the advancing ice sheets that will threaten to bury all of Canada and most of the northern US under a mile of ice...


You stop it right now all you deniers! This is NOT "Stupid is as Stupid does!"

This is the Obama plan, backed by Ahhnald who wants to be Secretary of Energy, to pump money into the economy.

This will employ people doing nothing that will hurt anything and has no intrinsic value to anyone, but puts money into the economy!

There, now you know the real answer.


Oh give us a break stas. Al never said we'd get meters of sea level rise by next tuesday, did he? He said 'if Greenland melts' Fast or slow it wont happen in his lifetime, so buying a condo on Fisherman's Wharf is not disbelieving his own propaganda.


Al DID say meters in "the very near future."

Gore's personal electricity consumption up 10%, despite "energy-efficient" home renovations

NASHVILLE - "In the year since Al Gore took steps to make his home more energy-efficient, the former Vice President's home energy use surged more than 10%, according to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research.

" 'A man's commitment to his beliefs is best measured by what he does behind the closed doors of his own home," said Drew Johnson, President of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. "Al Gore is a hypocrite and a fraud when it comes to his commitment to the environment, judging by his home energy consumption.' "

"In the past year, Gore's home burned through 213,210 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, enough to power 232 average American households for a month. ..."

The comments to this entry are closed.