One certainty under climate change is that global ocean levels are rising and a new report, led by Washington Sea Grant and the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group, provides the clearest picture yet of what to expect in Washington state.
The report includes projections for more than 150 different sites along the Washington coastline, from all marine shorelines in Washington state.
It incorporates the unique geology-driven land motion, with uplift at Neah Bay and sinking in Seattle. And it provides the latest, probabilistic estimates to let planners weigh the risks of different scenarios.
“One of the things we’ve heard from the planners we have shown it to so far is ‘Hey, for the first time we have something that we feel is actionable,‘” said first author Ian Miller, a coastal hazards specialist at Washington Sea Grant. “I hope we’re going to hear that more, and that these projections will find their way into planning processes at the community scale.”
The new report provides probabilistic estimates for 171 coastal sites each decade from now until 2150.
The analysis follows two previous assessments of sea-level rise in the state: the 2012 national report for sea-level rise in Washington, Oregon and California, and a 2008 report led by the UW Climate Impacts Group.
In addition to updating the science, the new report offers more detail on what to expect at specific locations.
The new report is part of the Washington Coastal Resilience Project, a three-year effort funded in 2016 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The larger project includes collaborations with partners at Island County, which covers Whidbey Island and Camano Island, and the City of Tacoma to incorporate climate change in coastal plans.