City of Santa Cruz Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

The City of Santa Cruz, California produced this vulnerability assessment in 2011 as a first step in developing a climate adaptation plan. The report aims to identify the climate impacts to which Santa Cruz is vulnerable, analyze the risks which these impacts pose, and recommend potential adaptation strategies to reduce the City's risk and exposure. The assessment was to serve as the basis for potential goals, objectives, and actions that will help the City build adaptive capacity. The report and process is intended to be dynamic and continue to incorporate improved understandings of climate science, local vulnerability, and new adaptation strategies.

The assessment examines how the potential impacts of climate change will affect the people, economy, property and development, infrastructure, environmental resources, and community health of Santa Cruz. It is supplemented throughout with maps and photographs demonstrating climate impacts and extreme weather events. Eight climate impacts were analyzed, and the study returned 11 locally-specific recommendations on how to adapt to these impacts, including:

  1. Sea-level rise, with an additional focus on saltwater intrusion and water table elevation
  2. Coastal storm damage and cliff erosion
  3. Ocean acidification
  4. Changes in precipitation, flood potential and water availability
  5. Changing temperatures
  6. Wildfires
  7. Natural resources impacts
  8. Economic developments and housing

Of these impacts, sea-level rise receives the most attention. The associated Recommendations span the range of impacts. Some examples include the necessity of installing a permanent tide gauge to measure sea-level rise, improving wastewater collection systems, and mandating climate change consideration in any Redevelopment Agency project.

A basic risk assessment follows the vulnerability assessment. This takes the form of a general qualitative assessment of risks without assessing specific types of consequences. The authors conclude that water shortages due to changes in temperatures and precipitation and a rise in the water table pose the highest risks to the City.


Publication Date: January 11, 2011

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • Gary Griggs
  • Brent Haddad

Related Organizations:

  • City of Santa Cruz, California


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment

States Affected:


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