NRC Report on Sea Level Rise Along California, Oregon, and Washington

These are the projections for sea level rise by 2100 as determined by the Relative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) calculated by climate models.  For the lowest, RCP 2.6, the sea level rise from 2005 is centered around 20″, with a rate of rise in 2100 of 1/5 of an inch a year.  For the highest, RCP 8.5, the rise is centered around 32″, almost three feet, and the rate of rise in 2100 is 1/2 inch per year.

California, Oregon, and Washington asked the National Research Council to project sea level rise along the West Coast for 2030, 2050, and 2100.  Their report was released in 2012, and for the central and southern California coast predicted a range of sea level rise from 2000 to 2100 from 17″ to 66″, including the coast sinking 4″ in the century.

In far northern California, Oregon, and Washington, the coast will rise between 6″ and 12″ in a century.  The relative sea level rise for the above region from 2000 to 2100 is 4″ to 56″, a decrease of about 10″ from the rest of California.

Neglecting land rising up or down, the center of the NRC projection for the coast is 45″ in 2100, which is 13″ above the high RCP 8.5 projection of 32″.

However, in a figure in the NRC summary, they show a world wide average range for 2100 of 20″ to 55″ with a median line at 31″, which would agree with the NRC report.

They add two scary observations.  In large El Niño events, the coastal sea level can rise from 4″ to 12″ over several winter months.  The other is that there are magnitude 8 or over earthquakes on the Oregon and Washington subduction faults every few 100 to 1,000 years.  This could raise sea levels there an additional 3 to 7 feet!


About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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