While a final assessment and consequences report isn’t slated to be finished until next year, a map of the San Francisco blocks most vulnerable to a projected sea level rise of between 36 and 66 inches by the end of this century has been drafted.

And while recently approved or future developments along San Francisco’s waterfront will be required to incorporate “innovative adaptive management” plans to mitigate the impact of the projected rise, on top of which storm surges typical raise the levels another 12 to 48 inches, there is a significant area of already developed neighborhoods and land that falls within the primary zone of vulnerability.

In addition to quantifying the projected economic impact to both public and private property, the aforementioned Vulnerability and Consequences Assessment will highlight projected impacts to the city’s transportation network, utilities, recreational facilities and communities, “with a focus on disproportionate impacts due to existing inequalities.”

We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

UPDATE(2019): Impact of Sea Level Rise on San Francisco Assessed

48 thoughts on “The Vulnerability and Consequences of Sea Level Rise in SF”
  1. And we’ll never know if they were right !! (well, maybe if some of the contributers here are under age 10, which I…uh…)

    1. Maybe, maybe not. Consequences of climate change have, so far, run to the far extreme of prior predictions. CO2 emissions continue to wantonly increase and even accelerate. Catastrophic collapse phenomena are not out of the question. If I woke up one morning and read in the newspaper that the entire Greenland ice sheet had slid off into the sea overnight that wouldn’t really surprise me that much. And that would cause a 20-foot sea level rise.

      Luckily I live at +600 feet …

      1. Well yes, we could find out (ahead of time) we grossly underestimated. Still it would be nice if as much thought went into doing something about tidal change that’s truly threatening SF – and Oakland, other cities and California in general: the flood of red ink from underfunded pension and deferred maintenance liabilities.

      2. I-80, I-880 and US-101 are lifeline of goods & people supplying SF. Relying on 680, 280 & the GGB-Presidio_Dr will put a pretty chokehold on the whole region.

  2. That blue outline looks like the shape of San Francisco before the shallow baylands were filled in.

    1. pretty much true, of course. What stands out to me is Mission Bay. During the planning and early development of Mission Bay we were aware of this background noise of climate change, and yet the grinding gear of government had not yet insisted on adding accommodation into development plans. Classic missed opportunity.

    1. They could in theory dam off Mission Bay. But they’d have to fight the historic preservationists for it. lol

  3. the last thing i want is for my life and house to depend on this city’s ability to implement and maintain infrastructure.

    1. Maybe a threat this big will be what it takes to focus the city’s attention on true problems.

  4. Not losing any sleep over this. The global warming zealots were telling us all kinds of catastrophic things would have happened by now, they were laughably inaccurate. The gullibility of Humanity never ceases to amaze me.

    1. mmm…yeah. Hurricane Sandy was a walk in the park. Or the recent winter flooding in Boston. Or the every high tide flooding in Miami Beach. This stuff creeps up on us, as 500 year events become 100 year events become every high tide events. We are very clearly seeing it right now.

    2. I agree that some global warming “zealots” have overblown the effects of global warming, but I do believe that the warming trend is very real and there will be effects from it. It would be wise to prepare for those effects and IMO we should do our best to limit our impact on the warming trend, i.e. when I hear that coal mines are being shut down I see it as progress and now that oil prices are on the rise again I hope that it will bring another push for alternatives and hopefully stop the continuing increase in global oil use.

      1. No, but this develops over several decades – step one would be to convert Treasure Island into a wetland (or let nature convert it) instead of building a bunch of housing that will be flooded…

  5. Except none of their predictions have ever come to be true. Not one and people continue to believe this BS. Your government takes your tax money and hands it to the storytelling morons who produce more dire warnings while they clamor for more tax money for more bogus studies.

    1. Remember the hole in the ozone layer? We did “bogus studies” and learned it was caused by CFC’s, so we banned CFC’s, and now the hole is almost gone. The prevention is exactly WHY the disastrous predictions don’t come true.

    2. Ulysses is right. When I was a kid there was fear of global cooling – even a coming ice age (Refer to the Time Mazagine article “Another Ice Age?” and Newsweek’s “The Cooling World.”

      Then the fear was global warming, which stopped showing a warming trend unless historical temperature recordings were “adjusted.” And dire warnings 20 years ago that if we don’t do anything there will be certain disaster, which turned out to be totally wrong. So now the fear is “climate change.” Of course the climate and everything else in the universe, changes.

      Has no one read about the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice Age? Some things you just can’t change, so just crack open some bubbly and enjoy.

      Finally, any talk about climate change without first significantly limiting population growth (or reducing population over time) is a total joke. A world with 10 billion people and all the green tech in the world is the real disaster. How about a global 1 child policy?

      1. Sure, we will put you in charge of implementation of the 1 child policy in Nigeria – good luck and I am sure you will get a Nobel prize upon successful completion.

        Better to focus on what you can change than on what others should do.

  6. The only thing we can prove is that all past predictions by the climate change cult have turned out false.

  7. Ah, trolls, what would we do without them? Truth would be hidden behind the foolish banter of so-called scientists. Thank goodness we have their manic desire for attention, to, uh, bring our attention to their brilliance.

    SF has one of the simplest problems to solve of many other cities—we don’t have hurricanes. The entire east, and gulf, coast has a much tougher nut to crack.

      1. Everyone who names themselves “A. Gore” to respond to a rising sea level post with simplistically provocative, demonstrably false comments is, in fact, the very definition of a troll.

  8. Heat waves, droughts, devastating storms, floods, famines, earthquakes… it’s already begun. Governments and economies will collapse under the weight of so many environmental disasters and there will be no money for adaptive measures – coastal flooding will be the least of our problems. Nations will break apart into city-states ruled by would be kings and demigods and control over nuclear weapons will be lost. Nuclear holocaust awaits our children.
    I’ve seen it in my dreams. Hell is coming. But on the other side is something wonderful. The Anthropogenic Age will drive the evolution of consciousness. New life forms will arise and they will call homo sapiens the monkey man.

    Or as I heard a wise climatologist say, “We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, but one thing we do know; the future ain’t what it used to be.”

  9. Dam the Golden Gate! Also, creates a new fresh water reservoir. Seems obvious point at which to solve the problem in perpetuity. Stop messing around with half solutions.

    1. Wouldn’t that also “solve” the problem of all those migratory fish, and those pesky boats from China?

      1. Actually a barrier at the Gate with locks for ships – much like the Thames Barrier in the U.K. – is probably exactly what will have to be built. It’s by far the most cost-effective solution. (That is not saying it’s cheap. But it’s less expensive that doing one-off levees and structure raising all around the entire bay, from Sausalito to San Rafael to Berkeley to San Jose and then up the Peninsula…)

        1. Have you seen a serious engineering cost estimate or is this your opinion as a software guy? Damming off the South Bay somewhere might be cost-effective, but the Golden Gate channel is not shaped like the Thames, at all.

          1. No doubt it would be a phenomenally expensive project but as Ned says it is likely cheaper than the piecemeal alternatives. The bigger, externalized cost however is the destruction of a huge ecosystem. I can’t even imagine what the CEQA report for that project would look like, a tower of volumes.

          2. actually credit to Sierrajeff for pointing out that the huge expense is cheaper than the distributed solution.

          3. Yes, even if the financial and engineering challenges can be resolved the environmental issues will effectively block it.

        2. Or the fact that the Thames is 30-60 feet deep while the Golden Gate is ~300′, but hey, “details”…right?

  10. Weather forecasters still can’t say 100% what the weather will be like next week, but something as complex as the world’s long term temperature we’ve figured out? Sure. Have some critical thinking please. Just because the NYT or CNN or whoever says the world is ending your gonna believe it?

    1. So you’re comparing short term precise weather predictions against long term statistically averaged climate predictions and attempting to draw a conclusion? Weather and climate are two entirely different things. Just because the both relate to the sky doesn’t make them comparable. Please make an effort to understand science before drawing conclusions.

  11. Innovation should be taken with a grain of salt. Take for example the Mission Rock project close to AT&T Park. The “innovation” there is to create a 6′ tall hill for the building, then a park along the coast that “will be let to nature”… Aka, let’s do nothing plan.

    1. How is raising the elevation “do(ing) nothing”? OTC, it seems like the kind of simple, common-sense idea one might actually call a “solution” (at least here in a city w/ substantial elevation differentials…in Miami it might prove impractical as the entire county might need to be raised).

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