Available Science Assessment Process: Sea Level Rise in the Pacific Northwest

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The Northwest CASC, EcoAdapt and Oregon State University recently partnered to assess the available science on climate adaptation actions that are commonly used in response to sea level rise by resource managers in Oregon and Washington.

Pacific Coast

Pacific Coast

(Credit: Dr. Natalie Nguyen, USGS National Wildlife Health Center. Public domain.)

Sea level rise is having and will continue to have a wide range of effects on coastal habitats, species, and communities, ranging from saltwater intrusion of freshwater ecosystems and aquifers to habitat conversion and infrastructure loss. Some of these effects are already causing forced relocation of coastal communities in Alaska (e.g., Shishmaref, Kivalina, Newtok) and Washington State (e.g., Hoh).

These and other changing conditions are leaving many natural resource practitioners unsure about how to prioritize climate adaptation actions to best protect ecosystems, wildlife and human communities. The Available Science Assessment Process (ASAP) can help resource managers make more effective management decisions that build resilience to a changing climate. The goal of ASAP is to synthesize and evaluate the body of scientific knowledge on specific, on-the-ground climate adaptation actions to determine the conditions, timeframes, and geographic areas where particular actions may be most effective for resource managers.

With support from the Northwest CASC, EcoAdapt and Oregon State University’s Institute for Natural Resources recently completed an ASAP project that assessed the available science on climate adaptation actions that are commonly used in response to sea level rise by resource managers in Oregon and Washington. They also evaluated the science behind these actions that may inform coastal planning and management in the Northwest. This project was designed to identify scientific evidence that coastal management priorities may change with sea level rise, and actions that can be practically taken now to address the long-term impacts associated with sea level rise.

The project team utilized literature reviews and interviews, expert elicitation, and extensive engagement with natural resource managers and scientists from federal, state, tribal, local, nongovernmental, and private entities in the Northwest to evaluate and synthesize the body of research on sea level rise adaptation actions. The project concluded with two workshops that brought scientists and managers together for broader conversations about sea level rise adaptation actions. These workshops were hosted in collaboration with the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative. 

Learn more and view results and products from this project on our project page

This project’s approach directly aligns with the Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center’s emphasis on the value of synthesizing and interpreting existing science.