State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance Document 2013 Update

The State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance Document was developed by the Coastal and Ocean Working Group of the California Climate Action Team (CO-CAT), with scientific support from the CA Ocean Protection Council’s Science Advisory Team and the California Ocean Science Trust.

The purpose of the Guidance is to help state agencies incorporate future sea-level rise (SLR) impacts into planning and decision making for projects in California, as was the 2010 SLR Interim Guidance. Additionally, this update includes the best current science on sea-level rise, as summarized in the 2012 final report from the National Academy of Sciences, 'Sea-Level Rise for the Coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington.'

The major additions to the SLR Guidance document are incorporated from the new information in the NAS 2012 report. The 2013 Guidance:

• Updates the ranges of sea-level rise predicted for the years 2030, 2050 and 2100.
• Acknowledges different rates of sea-level rise for regions north and south of Cape Mendocino.
• Considers predicted tectonic activity and the significant risk posed to the region north of Cape Mendocino from a large earthquake (magnitude greater than 8) along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, as advised in the NAS Report. (Although the purpose of the document is to provide guidance on SLR impacts from climate change, not tectonic hazards, the report explains, it is important to communicate the role that tectonic activity can have on changing relative sea level.)
• Strengthens language on impacts of storms and other extreme events.

Apart from the changes outlined in the four bullets, the policy recommendations in the SLR Guidance are the same as those developed in 2010.

Although the estimates of future sea-level rise provided in this report are intended to enhance consistency across California state agencies, the document is not intended to prescribe that all state agencies use specific or identical estimates of sea-level rise as part of their assessments or decisions.


The Coastal and Ocean Resources Working Group for the Climate Action Team is a comprised of senior level staff from California state agencies with ocean and coastal resource management responsibilities. CO-CAT’s task is to ensure the state’s ability to adapt to climate change impacts on ocean and coastal resources while supporting implementation of global warming emission reduction programs.


Publication Date: March 15, 2013

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