The Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on the California Coast

Provided by the California Energy Commission's Climate Change Center, this study includes a detailed analysis of California's infrastructure, property, and current population at risk from projected sea-level rise, as well as the cost of building structural measures to reduce that risk. Specifically, it identifies the risks of flooding and erosion to specific populations, roads, railways, power plants, water treatment plants, ports and airports, emergency and healthcare facilities, wetlands, coastal and San Francisco Bay properties, and groundwater aquifers. It also provides a comprehensive set of recommendations and strategies for adapting to sea-level rise.

This study's approach to estimating the economic impact of sea?level rise included adopting the scenarios developed for the PIER studies and mapping the extent of inundation from a 100?year flood event that is likely to occur with rising sea levels. They also identified areas at increased risk from erosion as a result of rising seas. The inundation and erosion data were overlaid with other geospatial data using GIS to produce quantitative estimates of the population, infrastructure, and replacement value of property at risk from sea?level rise, as well as the impacts on "harder?to?quantify" coastal ecosystems. They also produced an initial estimate of the cost of adaptation measures, specifically building seawalls and levees in high?valued coastal zones to protect against future flooding.

Maps for the entire coast of California demonstrating the extent of the areas at risk are posted at

Publication Date: May 2009

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • Matthew Heberger
  • Heather Cooley
  • Pablo Herrera
  • Peter H. Gleick
  • Eli Moore

Related Organizations:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment
  • Climate science

States Affected:


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