Additional Resources for Addressing Sea-Level Rise

Oct 17, 2018 | Sea-Level Rise

While not exhaustive, this list contains some useful resources for analysis and evaluation of sea-level rise-related impacts, including maps and GIS layers, surveys, studies, and assessments. This list will be updated as new information becomes available.

Background Information

State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance 2018 Update (Ocean Protection Council, 2018)
Catalyzed by direction from Governor Brown in 2016, the update to the State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance (Guidance) reflects advances in sea-level rise science and addresses the needs of state agencies and local governments as they incorporate sea-level rise into their planning, permitting, and investment decisions.

Rising Seas in California, an Update on Sea-Level Rise Science (Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team, 2017)
Produced by a working group of the CA OPC Science Advisory Team (OPC-SAT), supported and convened by the CA OST. The State of California SLR Guidance doc—adopted in 2010 and updated in 2013—provides guidance to state agencies for incorporating SLR projections into planning, design, permitting, construction, investment, and other decisions.

Addressing SLR and Floodplain Management in CA with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) (California Ocean Science Trust, Department of Water Resources, & Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 2016)
This report was developed as part of a collaborative project funded by the NOAA Coastal and Ocean Climate Applications program to address sea level rise in floodplain management. this project produced actionable sea level rise and zone of flooding information for coastal decision-makers, with specific consideration of communities that participate in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) NFIP.

Guidance – NFIP in CA – Quick Guide Coastal Appendix: Planning for Sea-Level Rise (California Department of Water Resources, 2016)
This California Quick Guide focuses on “existing condition” flood hazards. The appendix to the Quick Guide is for floodplain managers, planners, and community leaders who need to understand the effects of future sea-level rise in order to enhance their communities’ mitigation plans and take action to better protect their citizens.

Relating Future Coastal Conditions to Existing FEMA Flood Hazard Maps – Technical Methods Manual (prepared for California Department of Water Resources & Ocean Science Trust, 2016) 
The purpose of this Technical Methods Manual is to help planners and engineers approximately adjust FEMA coastal flood maps to account for higher sea levels anticipated to occur in the future. These data were compared to historic data to discern the predicted change in coastal flood levels that result from secular sea level rise as well as meteorological and climatic effects on short-term ocean water levels and wave conditions.

Report, in Brief, Sea-Level Rise for the Coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington: Past, Present, and Future (National Research Council, 2012)
In 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an executive order directing California state agencies to plan for sea-level rise and coastal impacts. The order also asked the National Research Council to assess sea-level rise in California. The states of Oregon and Washington, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Geological Survey joined California in sponsoring this NRC study.

Sea-Level Rise for the Coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington: Past, Present, and Future (National Research Council, 2012)
Full report.

State Lands Commission Documents

Staff’s Activities to Address Sea-Level Rise (2015)
This staff report provides background information about the potential impacts of sea-level rise on the public trust lands and resources under the State Lands Commission’s (Commission) jurisdiction. It also provides an update about how the Commission and its staff have been addressing sea-level rise in its planning, leasing, and regulatory actions. 

Implementation of Recommendations in the Report on Sea-Level Rise Preparedness (2010 Update)
At its meeting on December 17, 2009, the Commission considered and approved Minute Item 39 “A Report on Sea Level Rise Preparedness” (Report). The Commission’s approval included 16 recommendations, one of which was to provide a one-year status update on implementation of the recommendations included in the Report. The Commission also directed staff to resurvey the major lessees and grantees within a year for an update on their efforts to address sea level rise. 

Sea-Level Rise Preparedness (2009)
This report has been prepared to address concerns expressed on the issue of sea level rise and the implications for California’s economic and social future by members of the State Lands Commission at the Commission meeting held on June 1, 2009.


State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance Document (Ocean Protection Council, 2018)
This guidance document provides information and recommendations to enhance consistency across agencies in their development of approaches to sea-level rise.

Paying it Forward: The Path Toward Climate-Safe Infrastructure in California (A Report of the Climate-Safe Infrastructure Working Group to the California State Legislature and the Strategic Growth Council, 2018)
The Climate-Safe Infrastructure Working Group, established by AB 2800 (Quirk, 2016), examines how climate change impacts can be included in infrastructure planning, design, and implementation processes.  The report discusses how existing infrastructure can be readied for the coming impacts and how investments in new infrastructure can account for climate change from the outset.

California Residential Adaptation Policy Guidance (California Coastal Commission, 2018)
The intent of this Guidance is to build on the 2015 Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance by providing more specific details on how a community can address sea level rise impacts as it relates to residential development through Local Coastal Programs (LCPs), general plan updates, and Coastal Development Permits, which are essential planning tools for fully implementing sea level rise adaptation efforts.

Rising Seas in California, an Update on Sea-Level Rise Science (Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team, 2017)
Produced by a working group of the CA OPC Science Advisory Team (OPC-SAT), supported and convened by the CA OST. The State of California SLR Guidance doc—adopted in 2010 and updated in 2013—provides guidance to state agencies for incorporating SLR projections into planning, design, permitting, construction, investment, and other decisions.

California Coastal Commission Sea Level Rise Synthesis Report (California Coastal Commission, 2016)
Released in 2016, the Statewide Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Synthesis Report summarizes key findings of the analysis of existing vulnerability assessments for all 15 coastal counties with on the ground knowledge/expertise provided by Coastal Commission District staff.

Sea-Level Rise Policy Guidance (California Coastal Commission, 2015)
This document provides an overview of the best available science on sea-level rise for California and recommended methodology for addressing sea-level rise in Coastal Commission planning and regulatory actions.

Adapting to Climate Change: A Planning Guide for State Coastal Managers (NOAA Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, 2010)
This guide offers a framework for state coastal managers to follow as they develop and implement climate change adaptation plans in their own states.

Final Draft Guidelines for Coastal Flood Hazard Analysis and Mapping for the Pacific Coast of the United States (FEMA, 2005)
This document provides guidance for coastal flood hazard analyses and mapping specific to the Pacific Coast of the United States.


Adaptation Clearinghouse
An online database and networking site that serves policymakers and others who are working to help communities adapt to climate change.

Adaptation Tool Kit: Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Land Use (J. Grannis, 2011)
This tool kit provides local and state governments and their citizens with practical knowledge to help adapt to sea-level rise in a prudent and balanced manner.

Adapting to Rising Tides (San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission & NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management)
This collaborative planning project provides staff support, guidance, tools, and information to help agencies and organizations understand, communicate, and begin to resolve complex climate change issues, with a focus on the Alameda County shoreline.

Coastal Adaptation Project (Center for Ocean Solutions)
This partnership offers a set of coastal adaptation policy briefs, a beta online viewer, and a compilation of relevant data sets, tailored to the feedback and needs of local communities.

Dynamic Adaptive Policy Pathways: supporting decision making under uncertainty using Adaptation Tipping Points and Adaptation Pathways in policy analysis (
An approach that supports the development of adaptive plans with conditions of deep uncertainties. It describes a framework for taking specific immediate actions to keep options open to adapt if needed in the future.

Rolling Easements (J.G. Titus, 2011)
This document provides a primer on more than a dozen approaches for ensuring that wetlands and beaches can migrate inland, known as rolling easements, as people remove buildings, roads, and other structures from land as it becomes submerged.

weADAPT: 10 years of climate adaptation planning, research, and practice
A collaborative platform on climate adaptation issues. It allows practitioners, researchers, and policy-makers to access credible, high-quality information and connect with one another.

Estimating Financial Costs

Economic Impacts of Climate Adaptation Strategies for Southern Monterey Bay (TNC, 2016)
This study provides a detailed, integrated analysis of the costs and benefits of a range of coastal climate change adaptation strategies at four reaches in southern Monterey Bay, given a range of sea-level rise projections.

Marine Ecosystem Services Partnership (Duke University)
The Marine Ecosystem Services Partnership (MESP) is a community of practice for marine ecosystem stakeholders, policymakers, researchers, economists, and environmental managers. Please use this portal to share ideas, discuss pressing issues, post the latest news, and explore our extensive database of valuation studies.

National Ocean Economics Program (MIIS)
The National Ocean Economics Program is now the core research activity for the Center for the Blue Economy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. NOEP compiles, analyses, and distributes data to provide users with accurate and timely estimates of changes in the nature and value of the ocean and coastal-based economy.

What Will Adaptation Cost? An Economic Framework for Coastal Community Infrastructure (NOAA Coastal Services Center, 2013)
This report provides a framework that community leaders and planners can use to make more economically informed decisions about adapting to sea-level rise and storm flooding. The four-step framework can be used holistically to assess the costs and benefits of different adaptation approaches across a community or to focus on select infrastructure. The report also discusses the expertise needed for each step in the process.

Mapping / Visualization Tools and Data

A tool that displays coastal flooding from a 1.4-m (55-in) rise in sea-level, as well as areas inundated by a 100-year flood event along the California coast. These maps do not account for existing protective structures, such as levees.

California Coastal Records Project
Provides yearly high-resolution aerial photos of the entire coastline and information on shoreline trends in California.

California King Tides Project
A rich and diverse archive of photographs that highlight the changes in California’s shoreline communities and ecosystems during king tide events.

Coastal Data Information Program
Provides extensive modern and historic wind, wave, and water temperature data, as well as wave and swell models and forecasting information. Tables, graphs, and maps are available.

Coastal Resilience
A visualization and decision-support platform where ecological, social, and economic information can be viewed alongside sea-level rise and storm surge scenarios to develop risk-reduction and restoration solutions in Los Angeles, Ventura, Monterey, and Santa Barbara counties. Developed by The Nature Conservancy and the California State Coastal Conservancy. For additional information about habitat vulnerability and conservation strategies, visit Conserving California’s Coastal Habitats website.

Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS)
CoSMoS makes detailed predictions (meter-scale) of storm-induced coastal flooding, erosion, and cliff failures over large geographic scales (100s of kilometers).

Nature-Based Strategies for Adaptation Planning (Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions)
A decision-support tool that highlights where nature-based and other suitable coastal zone strategies can protect at-risk coastal populations and infrastructure. 

NOAA’s Digital Coast
A centralized repository of information and resources, including data, tools, training, and case studies that focus on coastal and ocean issues for coastal managers and technicians.

NOAA’s Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer
A tool that displays potential future sea-levels for coastal communities; the data do not account for coastal processes, such as erosion and subsidence.

On the Map: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics
This web-based mapping and reporting application is used to illustrate where workers are employed and where they live. The application is paired with reports on age, earnings, industry distributions, race, ethnicity, educational attainment, and gender, while the tool itself features comprehensive block-level coverage for home and work areas, six powerful analysis tools, user-created outputs, and easy-to-use online documentation.

Pacific Institute Sea-Level Rise Maps
Provides three sea-level rise maps. The Google Map and Hazard Maps show coastal flood and erosion hazard zones. The Thematic Maps show the impacts of sea-level rise onto vulnerable populations, roadways, railroads, electric power plants, wastewater treatment plants, and wetlands on the California coast.

Sea-Level Rise Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM)
Simulates the dominant processes involved in wetland conversions and shoreline modifications from long-term sea-level rise.

Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flood Web Tools Comparison Matrix Sea Level Rise (Nature Conservancy, NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, Climate Central)
An expandable chart to compare the functions and methods of publicly available sea-level rise and coastal flood web tools for planning and coastal management efforts. The matrix was originally developed as part of California’s Lifting the Fog workshop that sought to provide guidance to end users interested in using modeled sea level rise projections in coastal planning.

Surging Seas
Shows threats from sea-level rise and storm surge to all coastal towns on an interactive map.

USGS Maps, Imagery, and Publications
Provides many different types of maps (e.g., topographic [historic and digital], out of print, geologic, hydrologic, county, and state.) that can be used to inform a wide range of uses, including emergency response, outdoor recreation, scientific research, and resource management.

USGS: The National Assessment of Shoreline Change: A GIS Compilation of Vector Cliff Edged and Associated Cliff Erosion Data for the California Coast
Provides GIS data layers for cliff edges and associated rates of cliff retreat along the California coast.

USGS: The National Assessment of Shoreline Change: A GIS Compilation of Vector Shorelines and Associated Shoreline Change Data for the Sandy Shorelines of the California Coast
Provides shoreline data and shoreline change rates for sandy beaches along the California coast.

Coastal / Shoreline Surveys and Assessments

California Coastal Armoring Report
Summarizes the impacts of shoreline armoring on coastal erosion and provides policy recommendations to address such impacts.

Coastal Sediment Management Workgroup’s Library
Provides studies categorized by topic: coastal erosion, coastal engineering, economic studies, environmental, outreach/public information, planning and policy, regional sediment management, sea-level rise, sediment assessments, and miscellaneous. Studies include “California Beach Erosion Assessment Survey 2010,” “Impact of Sand Retention Structures on Southern and Central California Beaches,” and coastal regional sediment management plans.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Coast of California Studies
Provides links to studies from the Solana Beach-Encinitas Shoreline, Santa Clara River Watershed, and Malibu Creek.

USGS: National Assessment of Shoreline Change Part 3: Historical Shoreline Change and Associated Coastal Land Loss along Sandy Shorelines of the California Coast
Summarizes historical shoreline change and coastal land loss along the California coast.

USGS: National Assessment of Shoreline Change Part 4: Historical Coastal Cliff Retreat along the California Coast
Summarizes historical erosion along California’s coastal cliffs by region.


European Overtopping Manual
Describes available methods for assessing overtopping and its consequences. Provides techniques to predict wave overtopping at seawalls, flood embankments, breakwaters, and other shoreline structures. Supported by web-based programs for the calculation of overtopping discharge and design details. Provides pictures and videos of overtopping processes, graphical presentations, case studies, and examples of calculations.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Coastal Engineering Manual
Provides tools and procedures to plan, design, construct, and maintain coastal projects. Includes basic principles of coastal processes, methods for computing coastal planning and design parameters, and guidance for formulating and conducting studies in support of coastal flooding, shoreline protection, and navigation projects. Link directs to Engineer Manual database; type “coastal” in search box.

Legislation and Governance

Executive Order B-30-15 (Governor Brown, April 2015)
By 2030, reduce GHG emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels.

Sea-Level Rise: A Slow-Moving Emergency (Assembly Select Committee on Sea-level Rise and the California Economy, August 2014)
This report summarizes the testimony at the hearings providing highlights as well as insightful images that put into perspective the risks California faces. The report also includes key findings and a set of recommendations that was written by committee staff and approved by the Chair.

Governing California through Climate Change (Little Hoover Commission, July 2014)
The Little Hoover Commission, in this report, calls for the Governor and Legislature to create a new state entity or enhance the capacity of an existing state organization to establish and share the best-available state science and risk assessment procedures for anticipated climate impacts.