How Will the Monterey Bay Adapt to Sea-Level Rise?

SouthMontereyClimateAdaptationReport.MapThe southern Monterey Bay shore is losing sand faster than any other shoreline in California.  Regional decision makers are tasked with taking that fact into account,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.  

Enter the groundbreaking study, "Economic Impacts of Climate Adaptation Strategies for Southern Monterey Bay," prepared by the Nature Conservancy, the Center for the Blue Economy and other environmental partners, as part of our ongoing collaboration with The Nature Conservancy of California. It is the first comprehensive study of its kind to compare a suite of possible adaptation strategies to combat accelerating coastal erosion in the face of climate change.  The study looks at two different sea-level rise scenarios, four to five different adaptation possibilities, and here is the groundbreaking part---gives a detailed cost/benefit analysis of each possible strategy, looking long-term to 2030, 2060, and 2100.  One particularly interesting finding emerges:  "In all cases the least economically beneficial alternative, especially over the long-term, involved shoreline armoring," the study finds.   

Dr. Fernando DePaolis, Professor of International Environmental Policy Studies at the Middlebury Institute, and Center for the Blue Economy affiliate who contributed to the study says, "Sea level rise and climate change will impact Monterey Bay in many ways.  The main impact is from tourism, as the length and depth of local beaches will be reduced and beach goers will see a reduction in the quality of their experiences.”

“Many people think of beaches as ecological deserts when they actually provide a rich array of ecological functions, goods and services,” said Dr. Philip King, Chair of the SF State Economics Department, and Center for the Blue Economy Senior Fellow who also contributed to the study. “This study attempts to capture all of the benefits and costs associated with adaptation to sea level rise, both private and public.”

Regional planners in the southern Monterey Bay are now in possession of a rich set of guidelines for assessing various adaptation options for sea level rise and coastal hazard mitigation.   It is our hope at the Center for the Blue Economy that this will help our community to plan wisely for the future.

Learn More

Read the entire 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

Above quotes from Dr. DePaolis and Dr. King taken from the MIIS Newsroom article with permission.


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).