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Washington Coastal Resilience Project

About the Washington Coastal Resilience Project 

The Washington Coastal Resilience Project (WCRP) is a three-year effort to rapidly increase the state’s capacity to prepare for natural events that threaten the coast. The project will improve risk projections, provide better guidance for land use planners and strengthen capital investment programs for coastal restoration and infrastructure. These are the tools that coastal communities need to become more resilient to disasters.

 

New Sea Level Rise Report

While there is an abundance of scientific evidence demonstrating the role that climate change has on sea level rise (SLR), localized data and projections are rare. 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 provides probabilistic estimates for 171 coastal sites each decade from now until 2150.

 

It incorporates the unique geology-driven land motion of the coast and it provides the latest, probabilistic estimates to let planners weigh the risks of different scenarios. These are also the first probabilistic projections for sea level rise in Washington state. Instead of just giving low, medium, and high estimates, the authors applied a recently developed method that calculates the percent chance that a given water level will be exceeded, allowing planners to decide how they want to respond to, for instance, a water level with a 1 percent chance of occurring by a given year.

Key Points from the Report

Based on the results of the study, it is likely that Tacoma could see 1.5 to 3.3 feet of sea level rise by 2100. Under even the lowest greenhouse gas scenario (RCP 4.5), sea level rise could reach new high points.

 

Washington's unique geology causes some places to be more exposed to sea level rise than others. For example, Neah Bay experiences uplift from tectonic activity, whereas land in Puget Sound in subsiding, or sinking. As a result, areas between Olympia and Seattle may experience impacts from sea level rise at a faster rate than locations on the Northwest Coast of Washington, such as Neah Bay.

 

Sea level rise will depend, in part, on the amount of greenhouse gases released into the Earth's atmosphere, causing the planet to warm. By the 2050s, average annual temperature in the Puget Sound Region is projected to be 4.2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer under low greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Additional Resources and Information