Updating California’s Sea-Level Rise Guidance

We partnered with the Ocean Protection Council to update statewide guidance on planning for, and adapting to, higher sea levels.

A need to update statewide policy

The State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance Document, initially adopted in 2010 and updated in 2013, provides guidance to state agencies for incorporating sea-level rise projections into planning, permitting, investment and other decisions.

Now, the California Ocean Protection Council and the California Natural Resources Agency, in collaboration with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and the California Ocean Science Trust, are updating this statewide guidance to reflect recent advances in ice loss science and projections of sea-level rise. The updated guidance will focus on the needs of state agencies and local governments. It will help cities and counties as they comply with a new law that requires them to incorporate climate change into their planning efforts. The updated guidance document will also assist state agencies prepare for, and adapt to climate change, as directed by Governor Brown’s recent Executive Order.

Developing a new science synthesis

NOW AVAILABLE! Rising Seas in California: An Update on Sea-Level Rise Science

Ocean Science Trust is convening an OPC Science Advisory Team Working Group from January – April 2017 to consider the implications of recent scientific advances on ice melt/loss dynamics to update sea-level rise projections, and develop a ‘state of the science’ summary of the drivers of sea-level rise and implications of model selection, approach and uncertainty.

The Working Group members are:

  • Gary Griggs, University of California Santa Cruz, OPC-SAT (Working Group Chair)
  • Joe Arvai, University of Michigan
  • Dan Cayan, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, OPC-SAT
  • Rob DeConto, University of Massachusetts
  • Helen Fricker, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  • Bob Kopp, Rutgers University
  • Claudia Tebaldi, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Developing user-informed policy guidance

NOW AVAILABLE: Sea-Level Rise Public Workshops Agenda

Input from users of the guidance document will be solicited at multiple points throughout the update process. In February, March and April 2017, an Engagement Team led by Susanne Moser Research & Consulting and Climate Access, a not-for-profit organization, will conduct interviews and five listening sessions to better understand the needs of those who will use the guidance document. This input will help ensure that the updated guidance is understandable and useful for planning and decision-making.

In summer 2017, the California Ocean Protection Council and California Ocean Science Trust, with support from the Engagement Team, will convene a series of public workshops with state, regional, and local stakeholders to share the science findings and to solicit feedback on how stakeholders will utilize the guidance document. Public input on the guidance framework will help shape the updated draft policy guidance document. The Policy Advisory Committee, comprised of the California Ocean Protection Council and California Natural Resources Agency, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and the California Energy Commission, will prepare the updated draft guidance. This draft will then be circulated for formal public comment in the fall of 2017, with final adoption by the California Ocean Protection Council scheduled for January 2018.

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