AllWet💦 is an article series by Mark Gold, D.Env., OPC’s Executive Director and Deputy Secretary for Ocean and Coastal Policy at the California Natural Resources Agency
UN Ocean Conference Kickoff
Sunday night, the Oceano Azul Foundation hosted the 2022 United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference kickoff at the Lisbon Oceanarium. The president of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, delivered a powerful speech making it clear that war and refugee crises can’t be used as an excuse for inaction on climate and ocean conservation. President Rebelo de Sousa also praised the environmental non–governmental organization (NGO) community for their tireless pursuit of ocean conservation, children for their bold and clear voices on climate and the oceans, and Portugal for their Marine Protected Area program. To have the leader of the host nation kick off the week in such a bold and candid manner should set the tone for the week.
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Building on California’s global leadership on biodiversity and climate, and following the partnership established with New Zealand last month, Governor Gavin Newsom and Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau announced a new partnership on June 9 to advance bold action on climate change and biodiversity conservation. California and Canada signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) focused on fighting climate change, reducing pollution, cutting back on plastic waste, advancing zero-emission vehicles, protecting species and habitats, and building climate resilience.
Credit: Sandra Fogg
At the California Science Center in Los Angeles during the Summit of the Americas, Governor Newsom and Prime Minister Trudeau, along with their respective delegations, held a bilateral meeting to discuss California and Canada’s shared values, which are reflected in the MOC. These include enhancing partnerships with Indigenous Peoples, accelerating biodiversity conservation efforts, and conserving 30% of lands and waters by 2030.
The partnership also advances the goals and objectives of the California Ocean Litter Strategy and Statewide Microplastics Strategy to prevent plastic pollution by partnering on a range of complementary voluntary and regulatory actions spanning the plastics lifecycle in order to address the threats of plastic waste and pollution, including microplastics, on the health of the environment and ecosystems, including wildlife, rivers, lakes and ocean.
A joint statement on the new California-Canada climate action and nature protection partnership can be found here.
The California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) is pleased to announce the release of a solicitation for projects that build resilience on the coast to prepare for and adapt to the impacts of sea-level rise. Specific project types include research-based projects that focus on coastal habitat mapping, contaminated sites, and socio-economic impacts, and implementation projects that work to provide resilience to climate change through restoration and/or habitat enhancement. … read more
Photo by Andy Dingley
In California offshore waters, sustained northwesterly winds have been identified as a key energy resource which could contribute substantially to California’s renewable energy mandate (Senate Bill 100). These winds drive the upwelling of deeper, cool, nutrient-rich waters that sustains a thriving ecosystem. The development of large-scale offshore wind energy projects has the potential to reduce the wind stress at the sea surface, which could have local and/or regional implications on California wind-driven upwelling, nutrient delivery, and ecosystem dynamics.
This preliminary study, with funding from the California Energy Commission and OPC, evaluated the effects of offshore wind turbines in the Morro Bay, Diablo Canyon, and Humboldt Call Areas. The study is ongoing and in preparation for peer-review. The preliminary findings for Morro Bay and Diablo Canyon found that modest changes to wind speeds are found in the lee of wind farms (approximately 5 percent reduction), which leads to an a decrease in upwelled physical volume transport to the coastal zone. However, the Diablo Canyon Call Area is no longer being pursued so the findings are not applicable to the current Morro Bay Call Area. Since the effect of this decrease on the ecosystem was not evaluated in this study, no conclusions on ecosystem effects can be drawn from the modeled physical changes.
While changes are also observed near the Humboldt Call Area, they are substantially smaller than those seen near Morro Bay and Diablo Canyon. Future work will explore impacts to upwelling under various turbine configurations, layouts and turbine densities, while also evaluating upwelling impacts from offshore wind development in the face of climate change.
Coastal flooding across the United States coastline will increase significantly over the next 30 years, according to Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States, a new report by an interagency sea level rise task force including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other federal agencies. The report forecasts sea level rise to the year 2150 and projects that sea levels along U.S. coastlines will rise between 10 to 12 inches on average above today’s levels by 2050. The Ocean Protection Council will use this latest science to update California’s 2018 Sea Level Rise Guidance in 2023.
The report offers four key takeaways:
- The Next 30 Years of Sea Level Rise: Sea level along the U.S. coastline is projected to rise, on average, 10-to-12-inches in the next 30 years, which will be as much as the rise measured over the last 100 years (1920 – 2020). Sea level rise will vary regionally along U.S. coasts because of changes in both land and ocean height.
- More Damaging Flooding Projected: Sea level rise will create a profound shift in coastal flooding over the next 30 years by causing tide and storm surge heights to increase and reach further inland. By 2050, “moderate” (typically damaging) flooding is expected to occur, on average, more than 10 times as often as it does today, and can be intensified by local factors.
- Emissions Matter: Current and future emissions matter. About two feet of sea level rise along the U.S. coastline is increasingly likely between 2020 and 2100 because of emissions to date. Failing to curb future emissions could cause an additional 1.5-to-5 feet of rise for a total of 3.5-to-7 feet by the end of this century.
- Continual Tracking: Continuously tracking how and why sea level is changing is an important part of informing plans for adaptation. Our ability to monitor and understand the individual factors that contribute to sea level rise allows us to track sea level changes in a way that has never before been possible (e.g., using satellites to track global ocean levels and ice sheet thickness). Ongoing and expanded monitoring will be critical as sea levels continue to rise.
Fortunately, California is investing to protect our most vulnerable communities, save our beaches and build coastal resilience:
- Sea Level Rise California: Find out more about how sea level rise is expected to impact California at the California Natural Resources Agency’s “The Ocean is Moving In” website.
- Prop 68 Climate Resilience Miniseries: This video series goes on location to tell the stories of where and how California is helping promote climate resilience on the coast in the face of rising seas.
- Making California’s Coast Resilient to Sea Level Rise: Principles for Aligned State Action: California state agencies with coastal, bay, and shoreline climate resilience responsibilities, including for coastal infrastructure and Californians’ safety, have endorsed a set of Principles for Aligned State Action. These Principles will guide unified, effective action toward sea-level rise resilience for California’s coastal communities, ecosystems and economies.
Find the Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States and accompanying FAQ here, and explore the Interagency Sea Level Rise Scenario Tool here.
“As we look to 2022, our goal at the agency is to… continue California’s global leadership, combating climate change, transitioning our economy, and protecting our people and nature in the meantime. I believe strongly that people are resilient and that nature is resilient. We can adapt and weather these changes we are experiencing right now, and we at the Natural Resources Agency and across state government are focused on strengthening the resilience of our communities, our residents, and of our natural places to these changes we are experiencing. I’m optimistic that we will work harder than ever before and make unprecedented process toward building this resilience.” – from California Natural Resources Secretary and Ocean Protection Council Chair Wade Crowfoot’s end of the year video message
As 2021 brought global challenges to the forefront, the state of California responded with bold, decisive actions to protect our coast and ocean. OPC staff led multiple projects designed to restore wetlands, improve water quality, prevent plastic pollution, respond to environmental justice inequities, promote sustainable fisheries, protect marine wildlife and build resilience to climate change.
Despite the many looming threats, we continue to find hope in the form of scientific solutions to the planet’s biggest problems and in the promising work done by our grantees on the front lines. Join us in celebrating specific achievements from the past year below: … read more
At its December 7 meeting, the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) for the first time approved funding exclusively for coastal water quality projects that directly benefit Environmental Justice (EJ) Communities. A total of $7.5M in Proposition 1 funds will be disbursed to six projects that support multi-benefit ecosystem and watershed protection or restoration, habitat enhancement, resilience to climate change and community engagement.
While OPC regularly funds important ocean- and coast-related projects throughout the state, this is the Council’s first time soliciting projects that provide direct benefits to state-defined disadvantaged and severely disadvantaged communities, California Native American tribes, and communities that score above 80 percent on CalEnviroScreen results.
Secretary for the California Natural Resources Agency and OPC Chair Wade Crowfoot commended the state’s investment in the proposed community-driven projects, saying, “This effort is a really powerful model for how the state can prioritize funding that more effectively advances both natural resources protection and environmental justice.”
OPC Wetlands Program Manager Maria Rodriguez agreed. “This is OPC’s first step in accomplishing a dedicated pathway for funding EJ communities and projects that put community benefits at the forefront and emphasize social and economic benefits,” she said. “These are elements that OPC is working to incorporate into other funding opportunities to ensure community benefits are meaningful, direct and can be delivered through projects or programs OPC is leading.”
Funded projects span California’s coastline
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“The technical sea level rise studies we’ve completed to-date have shown the coastal hazard impacts we can expect in the coming decades – and that gives us the ability to share that information with the people who are going to be directly affected. That’s crucial because public awareness and understanding of these hazards is critical if we’re going to be able plan effectively for the future.” – Julia Elkin
Today we are Stinson Beach, located on the scenic Marin County coastline, talking with Julia Elkin, the Project Manager on this Prop 68 Project to develop and deliver a community adaptation planning process for Stinson Beach that addresses existing and future coastal hazard impacts and sea-level rise.
Located about an hour north of San Francisco, Stinson Beach is a highly valued California beach to both residents and visitors. Many Californians visit Stinson Beach for relief during extreme heat events or poor air quality days. Stinson Beach has immense value – and it is highly vulnerable to sea level rise. “Our opportunity now is to work with the public and plan for that slow-moving emergency that is sea level rise because the decisions that we can make now help us plan for a future that meets our community values and reduces harm to both our natural systems and human communities,” says Elkin.
Challenges with coastal erosion, flooding and storm surges are not new to Stinson Beach. That said, climate change will only exacerbate the intensity and frequency of these coastal hazards. Adaptation responses that will be explored through the Stinson Beach Adaptation and Resilience Collaboration, or Stinson ARC, will include nature-based strategies, long-term realignment of existing structures and infrastructure and structural options. … read more
Scientists have made it clear that stakes couldn’t be higher in the fight to save our planet’s species and habitats from extinction and devastation. On November 3, California became the first U.S. state to sign the Edinburgh Declaration, joining a global network of subnational governments promising bold action to conserve the planet’s biodiversity in the face of climate change.
The Edinburgh Declaration calls for transforming all sectors of society to address species loss and habitat destruction. It also highlights the key role that subnational governments can play in implementing global biodiversity goals.
California’s Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis met with Scotland’s External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson at COP 26 to formally sign the Declaration. “The nature crisis is real. We must move faster and on multiple fronts to address the joint crises of climate change and biodiversity loss,” Kounalakis said. “I am proud to sign the Edinburgh Declaration on behalf of Californians and our strong commitment to this global effort. As a subnational party with 40 million people to protect, 105 million acres we rely on for food, water, and habitat, and the fifth largest economy in the world to sustain, we understand what is at stake. There is no future in business as usual.”
And California is already delivering on this vision. In October 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-82-20, which elevates the role of nature-based solutions in California’s efforts to address climate change, protect biodiversity, and provide access for all Californians to the state’s precious natural areas. … read more
(Intro to the series here)
“Sea level rise will affect everybody and everything… We need to spread the word and work together.” – Hilanea Wilkinson
Today we are in the ancestral territory of the Wiyot, in what is now known as Humboldt County, talking with members of the Prop 68 project carrying out Phase I of the Wiyot Climate Change Adaptation Plan. The goal of this phase of the project is to identify cultural and natural resources within its ancestral lands and waters vulnerable to SLR and climate change.
Interviews with Tribal elders, youth, and community members is an integral part of this project as the project team works towards developing a use protocol for the collection and application of traditional ecological knowledge, or TEK. The TEK protocol will serve as guidance on how to appropriately and respectfully apply TEK, with the ultimate goal of ensuring the protection of tribal cultural resources. … read more