Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Potential Inundation due to Rising Sea Levels in the San Francisco Bay Region

January 1, 2009

An increase in the rate of sea level rise is one of the primary impacts of projected global climate change. To assess potential inundation associated with a continued acceleration of sea level rise, the highest resolution elevation data available were assembled from various sources and mosaicked to cover the land surfaces of the San Francisco Bay region. Next, to quantify high water levels throughout the bay, a hydrodynamic model of the San Francisco Estuary was driven by a projection of hourly water levels at the Presidio. This projection was based on a combination of climate model outputs and empirical models and incorporates astronomical, storm surge, El Niño, and long-term sea level rise influences.

Based on the resulting data, maps of areas vulnerable to inundation were produced, corresponding to specific amounts of sea level rise and recurrence intervals. These maps portray areas where inundation will likely be an increasing concern. In the North Bay, wetland survival and developed fill areas are at risk. In Central and South bays, a key feature is the bay-ward periphery of developed areas that would be newly vulnerable to inundation. Nearly all municipalities adjacent to South Bay face this risk to some degree. For the Bay as a whole, as early as 2050 under this scenario, the one-year peak event nearly equals the 100-year peak event in 2000. Maps of vulnerable areas are presented and some implications discussed.

Publication Year 2009
Title Potential Inundation due to Rising Sea Levels in the San Francisco Bay Region
Authors Noah Knowles
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Series Number CEC-500-2009-023-D
Index ID 70043798
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Branch of Regional Research-Western Region