Early 2017: Climate change
Part 16: Studies of the effects
of sea-level rise in California:
The Earth is ours to protect. 1
A valuable web site for scientific information on climate:
You might visit the Climate Central web site at http://www.climatecentral.org.
Their mission is to:
"Communicate the science and effects of climate change to the public and decision-makers."
They describe themselves as:
"An independent organization of leading scientists and journalists researching and reporting the facts about our changing climate and its impact on the public."
They survey and conduct:
"... scientific research on climate change and inform ... the public of key findings. ... [Their] scientists publish and ... journalists report on climate science, energy, sea level rise, wildfires, drought, and related topics. Climate Central is not an advocacy organization. ... Climate Central is a qualified 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.
Of particular interest are their "Risk Zone Maps" sections. You can specify a costal state, county or city and show what areas and groups among the population are at risk for future flooding because of low land elevation coupled with the rise in sea levels.
2009 to 2015: Studies of the effect of sea-level rise in California:
There have been a few troubling reports issued during the past decade about sea-level rise and its impact on the coast of California:
- 2009-MAR: A report titled: "The Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on the California Coast" by the Pacific Institute concluded that:
"Over the past century, mean sea level has risen nearly eight inches at the Golden Gate in San Francisco according to NOAA oceanographers, and under a medium-to-medium-high greenhouse-gas emissions scenario, mean sea level is projected to rise from 1.0 to 1.4 meters ... [3.3 to 4.6 feet; 40 to 55 inches] by the year 2100." 4
They predicted that:
"... 480,000 people; a wide range of critical infrastructure, such as roads, hospitals, schools, and emergency facilities; vast areas of wetlands and other natural ecosystems; and nearly $100 billion in property along the California coast are at increased risk from flooding from a 1.4-meter sea-level rise -- if no adaptation actions are taken." 4
- 2014-JUL: A report titled: "The Impacts of Sea Level rise on the San Francisco Bay" was prepared by the Pacific Institute for the California Energy Commission. It concentrated on the shoreline of the San Francisco Bay, and concluded that a 1 meter (3.3 foot) rise in sea level would:
"... put 220,000 people at risk of a 100‐year flood event, given today’s population. ... Among those affected are large numbers of low‐income people and communities of color, which are especially vulnerable. Critical infrastructure, such as roads, hospitals, schools, emergency facilities, wastewater treatment plants, power plants, and more will be at increased risk of inundation, as will vast areas of wetlands and other natural ecosystems. In addition, the cost of replacing property at risk of coastal flooding with a 1.0 meters [3.3 foot] rise in sea levels is $49 billion (in year 2000 dollars)." 5
- 2014-AUG: A report titled "Sea-Level Rise: a Slow-Moving Emergency," was prepared by the California Assembly’s Select Committee on Sea Level Rise and the California Economy. The report noted that California has 840 miles of coastline. Three quarters of the state's 38 million population live near the coastline, including the San Francisco Bay shoreline. They concluded that:
"California’s coastal agriculture, fishing, and tourist industries will be impacted. Airports, ports, and goods movement will be affected. ... [as will] 3,500 miles of roadways; about 280 miles of railroads; numerous schools, police and fire stations; and hospitals. ... Key elements of California’s wastewater treatment capacity and power generating capacity are located at current sea level."
Also, salt water intrusion ... poses a high level of risk to agricultural communities. Water supply and quality will be threatened. Costal sea-level rise will accelerate costal and beach erosion. 6
- 2015-NOV: a report titled: "Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Efforts in California" was issued by the State Senate's Committee on Environmental Quality." The authors' noted that:
"According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, every 2°F [1.1 °C] increase in global average temperature is expected to result in 5-15% reductions in crop yields, 3-10% increases in rainfall during heavy precipitation events, and 200-400% increases in areas burned by wildfires in the western U.S. In California, higher temperatures and more extreme events, including heat waves, wildfires, floods, and droughts, will have a range of consequences for public health, air and water quality, infrastructure, agriculture, natural resources, safety and security, and the economy." 7
The report mainly concentrated on "impacts to environmental quality and public health" from climate change. But they touched on sea-rise concerns, predicting that:
"With current projections, rising seas combined with a 100-year flood event would [intermittently] close over 2,000 miles of roadway, the Oakland and San Francisco airports, and the Port of Oakland. ... In coastal areas, rising sea levels can lead to increased salinity in coastal aquifers. Higher salinity of water has reduced usability for both drinking water and agricultural purposes, and desalination procedures are energy-intensive and costly." 7
2017-APR-26: New data indicates that the sea level rise in California may be much greater and will have much more impact than was indicated by prior reports:
By 2017, measurements had indicated that the melting of ice in the Antarctica is accelerating. Previous estimates of sea-level rises of up to 1.4 meters (4.6 feet) by the end of the 21st century now are believed to be unrealistically low.
A report by Anne C. Mulkern in E & E News by Scientific American states that:
"... ice loss causes higher sea-level rise in California, it said, due to how the Earth rotates and gravitational pull on the waters. If the ice melt is from West Antarctica, impacts extend further.
"For California, there is no worse place for land ice to be lost than from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet,” the study said. “For every foot of global sea-level rise caused by the loss of ice on West Antarctica, sea-level will rise approximately 1.25 feet along the California coast. ..."
[by the end of the 21st Century]...in San Francisco under the lowest estimate, the sea would rise 1 foot. It could climb as much as 6.9 feet. In La Jolla, the ocean would lift 1.1 feet under the lowest estimate or as much as 7.1 feet. Crescent City faces a range of 1.2 inches under the lowest estimate to as much as 5.9 feet." 9,10
Some climate specialists are predicting that the sea levels will rise along California's Pacific shore by up to 3 meters (10 feet) by the end of the 21st century. A report was commissioned by the state and presented to the Ocean Protection Council for adoption. The report warns that if our present trends continue, then the rate of rise in sea level in this century will be 30 to 40 times that of the 20th century. 2,3
Some of the predictions are that "... the worst case, will be reality by the end of this century:"
- San Francisco and Oakland international airports will be unusable because of the probability of frequent flooding.
- "Power plants, nuclear waste sites and other sensitive waterside sites need to be fortified or lost."
- "More than 42,000 homes in California will be under water -- not merely flooded, but with seawater over [their] roofs."
California Assemblyman Mark Stone (D) chairman of the Select Committee on Coastal Protection and Access to Natural Resources said:
"We’re not doing well at all. We have yet to really start to answer the hard questions and make policy -- saying, ‘No, we are not going to put public money here.’
Eventually we should get to the point that we are not going to do any public investment in those places any more."
Patzert, a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said:
"It’s not an existential threat. It’s real. It’s gonna happen.
Here’s the bigger issue: If you’re in the tunnel and you see the train coming at you, what do you do? Do you race towards it or do you back out? It’s just common sense. As a society, why aren’t we doing that?"
The consensus of climate scientists is that the cause of the sea level rise is global warming which is causing the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to melt at an accelerating rate:
- The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets contain more than 99% of the total freshwater ice on Earth.
- The Antarctic ice sheet covers almost 14 million square kilometers (5.4 million square miles) which is similar to the total area of the contiguous U.S. mainland and Mexico combined.
- The Greenland ice sheet covers 1.7 million square kilometers (0.66 million square miles) which is three times the size of Texas.
- If both ice sheets were to melt completely, then the sea level would rise about 66 meters (220 feet).
Melting of only a small percentage of both ice sheets would produce the above catastrophes. 8
More developments are inevitable.
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
- Image downloaded from Stock Free Images web site at: https://www.stockfreeimages.com/
- Julie Cart, "California submerging: Rising seas are claiming its famed coast faster than scientists imagined," CalMatters.org, 2017-APR-25, at: https://calmatters.org/
- "Rising Seas in California: An update on sea-level rise science," CalMatters.org, 2017-APR. This is a PDF file that can be downloaded at: https://calmatters.org/
- "The Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on the California Coast," Pacific Institute, 2009-MAR-11, at: http://pacinst.org/
- "The Impacts of Sea Level rise on the San Francisco Bay" Pacific institute, 2014-JUL at: at: http://www.pacinst.org/
- "Sea-Level Rise: a slow-moving emergency," Select Committee Sea Level Rise and the California Economy. 2014-AUG, at: http://lafco.smcgov.org/
- "Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Efforts in California," California Senate, 2015-NOV, at: http://senv.senate.ca.gov/
- Anonymous author, "Quick Facts on Ice Sheets," National Snow & Ice Data Center, 2017, at: https://nsidc.org/
- Anne C. Mulkern, "Rising Sea Levels Will Hit California Harder Than Other Places," Scientific American, 2017-APR-27, at: https://www.scientificamerican.com/
- Marshall Connolly, "Gravity map of Earth reveals scary fact about Greenland and sea level rise," Catholic Online, 2016-OCT-19, at: http://www.catholic.org/
Copyright © 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2017-APR-02
Latest update: 2017-APR-09
Author: B.A. Robinson