Adapting to Rising Tides | Plans + Projects | Our Work

Adapting to Rising Tides

There is an immediate need to improve regional understanding in the Bay Area of the challenges from climate change and sea level rise.

Pedestrians on Alameda shoreline
Monday, July 10, 2017

MTC partnered with the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) and their Adapting to Rising Tides (ART) Program on a series of projects to understand the vulnerability and consequences of sea level rise inundation and storm event flooding on transportation infrastructure. More information, including detailed project information, can be found on the Adapting to Rising Tides Program website.

Projects include:

ART Bay Area
In 2016 MTC, in partnership with BCDC and the Bay Area Regional Collaborative (BARC), was awarded a Caltrans Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant to develop a regional adaptation planning process aimed at increasing the resilience of the region’s transportation and community assets. The project is expected to be completed in 2019.

Bay Area Sea Level Rise Analysis and Mapping
MTC, in partnership with BCDC, developed integrated regional shoreline mapping and analysis tools to support consistent sea level rise assessment and adaptation throughout the region. Regional tools include:

  • County specific sea level rise and extreme tide matrices that depict locally-relevant water levels and illustrate the “One Map, Many Futures” concept.
  • Inundation mapping for ten scenarios that capture over 90 combinations of future sea levels and extreme tide conditions.
  • Overtopping potential maps for all ten scenarios that depict where the Bay may overtop the shoreline. Coupled with the inundation maps, the overtopping potential maps help in identifying the shoreline locations and flow paths that could lead to inland flooding.

Transportation Climate Resilience in Alameda County
MTC, in partnership with BCDC, the California Department of Transportation District 4 (Caltrans) and San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), was awarded a grant in 2010 and again in 2013 from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to assess the vulnerability of transportation infrastructure in Alameda County and identify potential adaptation strategies. Links to reports can be found below.

Neighborhoods, businesses and entire industries currently exist on the shoreline and are home to more than 250,000 residents plus thousands of others who could be affected by reduced access to job centers, shopping, transit stations, healthcare facilities and schools.

We must evaluate how prepared our region is for rising sea levels and extreme weather events. This involves:

  • Assessing the vulnerability of our transportation systems
  • Understanding how rising seas will affect our shorelines
  • Identifying solutions that work

The purpose: to help local governments as well as transportation planners, Caltrans and congestion management agencies improve their risk-assessment practices to craft effective adaptation strategies.

Today’s floods could be the future’s high tides, and areas that now flood every ten or 20 years could flood much more frequently.  The National Research Council projects that the San Francisco Bay could rise 12 to 24 inches by 2050…

…and as much as 36 to 66 inches by the end of the century.

Rising sea levels are linked to climate change, or global warming.

Most climate scientists agree that global warming is accelerated by the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases through the burning of fossil fuels such as gasoline or coal.

These emissions act like a heat-trapping blanket.