Assessing Climate Impacts on California’s Coast

Providing a scientific basis to advance the State’s adaptation plans for California’s coasts and oceans

California's Coast and Ocean Summary Report is now available.

Advancing Science-Based Solutions

The state of California has been addressing climate change for over 20 years. Scientific assessments are an important way that state and local leaders better understand how climate change is currently affecting us, what we might expect in the future, and what we can do about it. In contrast to the previous three assessments, California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment has incorporated a number of ocean and coastal related projects into its portfolio.

The State has called upon the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) and Ocean Science Trust (OST) to convene an Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team (OPC-SAT) working group to develop a statewide report for our ocean and coast that:

(1) Synthesizes knowledge of the impacts of climate change on human coastal communities and associated ocean and coastal ecosystems;

(2) Advances science-based solutions to inform decision-making;

(3) Identifies emerging issues, knowledge, and policy gaps to advance the State’s ongoing adaptation research and funding agenda

A Powerful Collaborative Process

Project timeline: August 2017-July 2018

California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, like its three predecessors, reflects a powerful collaborative process. The OPC has provided funding for an OPC-SAT working group composed of leaders in both science and policy arenas pertinent to oceans and coasts. In partnership with Ocean Science Trust, the team will write a forward-looking summary on opportunities to build resilience in California, specifying  how science can support those efforts.


There have been three previous scientific assessments to understand the potential impacts of climate change in California. Climate assessments in California are required by Executive Order #S-03-05.

The 1st Assessment provided support for passage of AB32 and the development of the Air Resources Board’s 2008 Scoping Plan for reducing greenhouse gas emission. The 2nd Assessment provided support for the State’s 2009 California Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, the State’s first multi-sectoral effort to plan for climate risks. The 3rd Assessment supported the development of the Safeguarding California Plan for reducing climate risk.

California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment is an effort to implement much of the Climate Change Research Plan, released in 2015, which articulates near-term climate change research needs to ensure that the State stays on track to meet its climate goals.

The assessment of our ocean and coast is part of an unprecedented effort to synthesize cutting-edge findings and the best available climate science in individual reports for nine regions, Tribal and Indigenous Communities, Environmental Justice, and the entire state as part of California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment.

Working Group

Gary Griggs, University of California, Santa Cruz; OPC-SAT

Karina J Nielsen, San Francisco State University; OPC-SAT

Raphael Kudela, University of California, Santa Cruz

Tessa Hill, University of California Davis, Bodega Marine Lab

Nate Mantua, Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Eric Hartge, Center for Ocean Solutions

Juliette Finzi Hart, USGS

Charles Colgan, Center for the Blue Economy, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Jenn Phillips, Ocean Protection Council

Liz Whiteman, Ocean Science Trust

Leila Sievanen, Ocean Science Trust

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