California, Oregon, Washington, and the Surging Sea

Sea levels are rising at an accelerating rate, and the scientific community is confident that global warming is the most important cause. Higher sea levels translate to more and higher coastal floods. To forecast future risk, this analysis integrates historic flood statistics with local sea level rise projections developed by the U.S. National Research Council. Under mid-range projections, floods exceeding today’s historic records are likely to take place throughout California, Oregon and Washington within the next 30 years. In Southern California, such floods would become annual events within the same period; in Northern California and Puget Sound, this would take up to six decades.

The tool includes:

  • Interactive local projections of sea level rise and increasing coastal flood risk from 1-10 feet by decade;
  • A zooming, zip-searchable map of low-lying areas threatened, plus layers showing social vulnerability, population density and property value;
  • Detailed assessments of populations, property, infrastructure and contamination sources exposed, for each implicated county, city, town, zip code, planning district, legislative district and more; and
  • State- and county-wide heat maps facilitating high-level vulnerability comparisons. Detailed knowledge of vulnerability is a critical tool for communities seeking to build resiliency to the climate challenges of today and the future.

From the Ground Up: The State of the States on Climate Adaptation for Agriculture

This paper analyzes how state climate adaptation plans treat agriculture and food systems, and identifies challenges and best practices and lift-up innovative approaches for the future. To conduct the analysis, every state was catalouged with a climate adaptation plan that makes concrete recommendations for agricultural adaptation. A list of every agriculture-related policy proposal was created in each state plan and sorted those strategies into ten categories based on our best interpretation of their goals. Eight strategies identified by the USDA in the 2016 report “Adaptation Resources for Agriculture,” were pulled. Two additional categories we identified as important were added, covering financial support and technical assistance.

Key Findings

A few important trends stand out in state climate adaptation plans.

  1. Few states are considering ambitious changes to their agricultural systems, such as changing crop types to fit the altered climate or using new approaches to animal production.
  2. Locally focused adaptation strategies with less daunting scopes, such as those focused on soil and water quality, have gained traction.
  3. Strategies designed to support farmers with technical and financial support for climate adaptation are well-represented.
  4. Very little attention is given to biodiversity, how to “manage farms and fields as part of a larger landscape,” a potentially powerful tool in the face of climate change.
  5. Investing in agriculture-related infrastructure as part of climate adaptation is similarly under-represented.

Third Oregon Climate Assessment Report (2017)

This report presents strengthening evidence that Oregon is already experiencing the effects of climate change.

Key climate risks vary across Oregon

On the Coast, sea level rise will increase the risk of coastal erosion and flooding; warming waters and ocean acidification will degrade es- tuarine habitat crucial for salmon and shellfish and negatively affect nearshore fisheries; and forest vegetation in the Coast Range may shift. In the Willamette Valley, declining snow-pack, earlier snowmelt, and greater summer water demand may increase summer water scarcity; and wildfire activity is expected to increase. In the Cascade Range, diminishing snowpack leads to larger, earlier peak flow events and lower summer low flows; more wildfires and changes in climate suitability may shift forest vegetation types. In Eastern Oregon, declining snowpack has similar effects; warming streams will limit ranges for salmon and trout; disturb- ances and changes in suitability are expected to shift forest vegetation; and rangeland and sage-brush habitat may experience greater invasion of non-native weeds and more frequent fires. 

 

Embracing Change - Adapting Conservation Approaches to Address a Changing Climate

Climate change may undermine the effectiveness of current efforts to conserve wildlife and ecosystems. Given that time and money for conservation are limited, there is a need for responsible investments that embrace the realities of a changing climate. A thorough consideration of anticipated climate change impacts can reveal the necessity of intentional, strategic, and forward-looking adjustments to what kinds of actions are being implemented, where actions are located, when actions are needed, and what goals those actions are designed to achieve. This report offers real-world examples of how conservation practitioners are already beginning to modify the WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, and WHY of their conservation endeavors. These stories are intended to inspire others to take a closer look at their conservation strategies and determine whether different approaches will be needed to make the most of limited conservation dollars in the context of climate change and uncertainty. 

 

Native Village of Georgetown: Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

This climate change vulnerability assessment documents climate change impacts and trends that have been observed along the Kuskokwim River. It was commissioned by the Georgetown Tribal Council to help inform their efforts to re-settle the Native Village of Georgetown, and to provide a starting place for working with neighboring communities to plan for climate change. Information was collected through a variety of methods, including interviews with elders and the collection of Traditional Knowledge, mapping and graphing of environmental data, review of published literature, and interviews with local scientists and natural resource managers.

The climate change vulnerability assessment revealed that subsistence resources are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change Some of the most vulnerable resources included berries, salmon, moose, and other game animals. Populations of these vital resources could become less reliable over time, but in addition, issues related to food storage, access, health, economics, and spiritual well-being are also at risk. Some of the issues identified in this assessment related to the resettlement of Georgetown in terms of infrastructure and community planning include the potential for increased contamination of water resources, increased risk of wildfire to structures, and increased risk of flooding. The Native Village of Georgetown has an opportunity to develop their village using approaches to building and siting that reduce their risks over time.

Indonesia - Costs of Climate Change 2050

The Climate Change Adaptation, Thought Leadership and Assessments (ATLAS) Project undertook an assessment of the future economic costs of climate change in Indonesia to provide USAID/Indonesia and the Government of Indonesia with actionable information for climate change adaptation programming and climate resilient development. The assessment focuses on aspects of agriculture, health, and long-term sea level rise (SLR), estimating the costs that would be incurred in the year 2050 due to changes in climate or to loss of land from gradual SLR. While this study is not a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of climate change impacts, it does shed light on the costs that will be incurred if Indonesia does not invest in adaptation. International and Indonesian policy analysts and decision makers in government, civil society, and the private sector can use this information to inform decisions or identify issues for more detailed analysis that will refine the understanding of the economic implications of climate change.

Monitoring & evaluation in climate change adaptation projects: Highlights for conservation practitioners

Monitoring on-the-ground implementation projects in the face of climate change shares much in common with monitoring and evaluation best practices that have been advocated for in conservation in recent years. However, climate change presents some additional challenges that warrant consideration. Here we provide a brief summary of current thinking on the monitoring and evaluation of climate adaptation projects, and point readers towards additional resources.

Safeguarding California Plan: 2018 Update

The updated Safeguarding California Plan reflects hundreds of comments received during the public comment period and includes several new chapters and features, including a Climate Justice chapter highlighting how equity is woven throughout the entire plan.

From pinpointing vulnerabilities in the electricity grid to improving energy efficiency to realigning coastal roads to prepare for sea-level rise, state agencies are funding projects and actions to safeguard both natural and built environments from climate change impacts. Examples include:
  • Assessing transportation vulnerability
  • Studying grid vulnerability in Los Angeles County
  • Building drought resilience in Tulare County
Additional examples of climate change adaptation actions can be found in a compilation developed by the Natural Resources Agency in tandem with the 2018 update.