Science for a Blue Planet

Featuring cutting-edge work, discoveries, and challenges of our scientists, our partners, and the larger conservation science community.

New and Improved Sea Level Rise Planning Tool!

It’s live! We are excited to announce that we just launched our newly updated Our Coast, Our Future platform (! In a time when we are seeing and feeling the effects of climate change more than ever, it’s critical that our solutions keep pace and help us think ahead and think holistically. That’s exactly what the newly updated Our Coast, Our Future tool does.

What’s new in the update?

  • Newly added statewide groundwater hazard data (Befus et al. 2020) to help planners understand and plan for how rising seas will affect the coastal groundwater table in their area
  • New, more streamlined mapping user interface to better visualize and interact with the coastal climate hazard data
  • Upgraded functionality including the ability to compare scenarios side-by-side, quickly generate a flood extent summary report for all scenarios in a given area, and access bulk data downloads by county
  • New website, infographics, and updated content to help planners more efficiently understand and use the Our Coast, Our Future tool and output products
  • Same state-of-the-science modeling from the USGS Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS), now available from Point Arena south the Mexican border, and used by over 100 federal, state, and local organizations for adaptation planning across California
Assessing impacts from rising groundwater is a key and currently overlooked aspect of coastal climate change planning. Adaptation solutions that only address surface water flooding may still leave communities vulnerable to rising groundwater. Our Coast, Our Future helps planners incorporate this component.

What is Our Coast, Our Future?

Climate change is increasing sea levels, causing shoreline erosion, and altering the frequency and intensity of coastal flooding in many regions of the California coast. To protect communities and ecosystems, managers and planners need locally relevant tools that help them understand vulnerabilities and plan for action.

Our Coast, Our Future is a collaborative, user driven approach to provide coastal decision makers with locally relevant, online maps and tools to help understand, visualize, and adapt to sea level rise and coastal storms

Learn more by visiting our newly launched site.

Who is Our Coast, Our Future for?

While the impact of the tool and data will benefit all people and wildlife inhabiting coastal California, it does have a specific practical audience. The tool was created for those who devise, implement, and evaluate climate change coastal mitigation and adaptation plans in California. Examples of those in planning roles include land use planners, coastal resource managers, restoration managers, hazard mitigation planners, floodplain managers, emergency managers, stormwater managers, municipal engineers, municipal leaders, zoning and permitting officials, public works officials, and conservation organizations. The creation of the tool began in the San Francisco Bay Area and has expanded to cover and serve communities as far north as Jenner and as far south as San Diego. By 2022 it will cover the entire coast of California.

The online viewer is a very effective tool for public engagement. Maps and scenario tables can be used to strengthen grant proposals, presentations, websites, and all of the plans listed above. They can benefit both internal planning and communication, as well as public communication around a given project.

How does Our Coast, Our Future help us plan for climate change?

Our Coast, Our Future is a decision-support tool that can be used during a climate change adaptation planning process, and was designed specifically for use in the “Assessment” stage. A typical adaptation planning process begins with an initial information gathering stage, during which the organization leading the process identifies the public infrastructure, private property, people, habitats, and other community assets that are at risk of sea level rise impacts. During the “Planning” phase, different adaptation strategies are assessed to see which are the most effective, and these strategies are then incorporated into plans like General Plans, Local Coastal Plans, Habitat Management Plans, etc. Finally, a plan is formally adopted and the adaptation strategies described in the plan can be implemented, evaluated, and modified to meet evolving needs. An adaptation planning process can take from several months to several years, depending on the size and complexity of the situation that the plan is addressing. Our Coast, Our Future can help this process by providing the science needed to understand and evaluate how sea level rise could impact your community.

We’re grateful for the numerous partners we’ve worked with and continue to collaborate with to make this the best tool possible to serve California’s coastal communities now and into the future, especially the USGS, our co-lead. The platform has been updated thanks to funding support from the California Natural Resources Agency, Ocean Protection Council, NOAA, California Coastal Conservancy, and the USGS. The shared intention for this tool is to encourage and increase the number of on the ground, nature-based solutions to climate change, which of course comes with multiple benefits for wildlife and people into the future.

Find out more about Point Blue’s work to protect our shorelines.

Follow up information from our August 10th Webinar

Additional groundwater data and information: