How Will the Monterey Bay Adapt to Sea-Level Rise?  New Study California Sea Grant Study Will Provide Tools

SouthMontereyClimateAdaptationReport.MapThe southern Monterey Bay shore is losing sand faster than any other shoreline in California while anticipating a rise in sea-level of between 4 and 8.8 inches in the next 14 years, and 2.8 to 5.2 feet in the next 84 years1.  Following fast on the heels of our recent collaborative study, "Economic Impacts of Climate Adaptation Strategies for Southern Monterey Bay," which gave a cost/benefit analysis of various adaptation strategies,  is the next venture in our quest to put a rich set of guidelines in the hands of regional planners.  The Center for the Blue Economy has been recommended for an award of $60,000 California Sea Grant to work on a project to help the Southern Monterey Bay and similar communities plan for sea level rise. The study,"Measurements of Risk and Uncertainty,"  will provide a model and techniques for communities to structure adaptation strategies, combined with economic analysis and a community based process.  This project will investigate and design a process for choosing coastal adaptation strategies that more explicitly measure the risks associated with decisions about adaptation in ways that are accessible and useful to non-expert stakeholders and decision makers.  The area of study will be Southern Monterey Bay, but the model will be adaptable to other coastal cities.   The Measurement of Risk and Uncertainty project is slated to start in Feb. 2017.  

Coastal erosion is a constant issue through much of the California coast, a threat that will be greatly intensified by expected rises in sea level.  California is also a leader in planning to manage this increased threat.  Local governments have been funded to update their coastal programs to address sea level rise and there is a growing body of studies identifying options for public and private responses.   Much is known about how California could respond, but the deep uncertainty about the exact timing and scope of climate change and sea level rise make it extremely difficult for decision makers to choose when to take what steps.  Recognizing a general risk to resilience is not the same as understanding specific risks that can guide action.  Risk assessment models based on Monte Carlo simulations and Bayesian analysis will be constructed based on a recently completed economic assessment of adaptation options in that area.  The models will then be used with local stakeholders to develop an analysis-based stakeholder-defined risk assessment for adaptation strategies that will allow options to be selected for immediate, near term or future actions based on current and evolving understanding of risks.  The results of the project will be a better-informed set of strategies for Southern Monterey Bay as well as computer tools and process recommendations that can be transferred to other locations in California.

1.    Develop analytic and decision support processes that assist communities planning for adaptation to sea level rise to choose timing strategies that reflect a better understanding of risks over time.
2.    Expand the analytic tools used for responding to climate change effects on coastal communities to include explicit measures of current and future risks based on Monte Carlo and Bayesian methods
3.    Investigate how formal risk modeling affects risk perceptions and assessments by stakeholders and decision makers.
4.    Assist communities in Southern Monterey Bay to prepare adaptation plans and programs that reflect current knowledge of risks and can evolve to incorporate new information as it becomes available.

Learn More

Read the groundbreaking study:   Economic Impacts of Climate Adaptation Strategies for Southern Monterey Bay

Read an article from the Monterey County Weekly:  Study shows coastal armoring is worst solution, economically, to combat local sea level rise

Read an article from the MIIS Newsroom:  Institute Experts Contribute to Climate Adaptation Study. 


1:  The figures are consistent with medium and high sea-level rise scenarios in the Monterey Bay Sea Level Rise Vulnerability study (MBSLR-ESA PWA 2014) and the report for the fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2013) and National Research Council (U.S) Committee on Sea Level Rise for the Coasts of California (NRC 2012).