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Holding Back Sea Level Rise

Rising sea levels are posing a catastrophic threat to people, infrastructure and the economy, and we may be running out of solutions to keep the water back.

Rising seas are a result of polar ice melt and ocean water expansion that’s happening as the earth warms up from burning fossil fuels and other factors.

So what does this all mean for places here in the Bay Area like Santa Cruz, Pacifica, SFO and Oakland airport that are in the water’s path?

We got a glimpse of our future this past winter. High tides, coupled with back-to-back atmospheric rivers, will more likely result in flooding for communities along the water. An earth science professor at UC Santa Cruz says that in the short term, or within the next 20 years, storms will be more damaging to the coastal communities.

Dr. Gary Griggs, Earth Science professor at UC Santa Cruz says: “In the long run, we cannot hold back the Pacific Ocean. We have 216 feet total of sea level rise; we only need 3-5 feet to be problematic as we learned this winter.”

As far as immediate solutions to fight off rising seas, Griggs says time and ideas are running out. He doesn’t believe we’ll build new sea walls nor add more sand to beaches because it’s expensive and is not a long term solution.

“We’ve moved neighborhoods back we’ve moved apartments off the cliff in Pacifica,” Griggs said. “We need to look at what are the vulnerable areas and begin to develop a timeline for when we remove those and relocate. It’s not something anyone wants to see or hear but it’s going to be inevitable.”

Griggs sits on a sea level risk task force run by the state. Its updated report is due this summer, and it’s expected to give us the most recent science and what we can expect on the California coast in the near future.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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