Social science research to advance regional coordination and collaboration of sea level rise adaptation and planning on Humboldt Bay

Start/End: March, 2020 to January, 2022

Humboldt Bay, in Northern California, is experiencing the fastest relative rate of sea-level rise in the Western United States. Rising tides, groundwater, and shoreline erosion will pose threats to numerous industries and businesses, lands of cultural and tribal importance, critical infrastructure, and sensitive coastal habitats. Thousands of people and billions of dollars worth of infrastructure, development, and property are predicted to be impacted possibly as early as 2030. 

The Humboldt Bay shoreline is governed by numerous state and local agencies with different jurisdictions and missions. As sea-levels rise, waters will cross these political boundaries, making planning especially challenging. In order to devise feasible adaptation solutions, it will be necessary for property owners, government agencies, and community groups to coordinate their efforts. However, there is no clear pathway for doing so. 

This project can contribute to understanding the social and political context of sea-level rise adaptation planning. Researchers will analyze available documentation related to sea-level rise in the Humboldt Bay and improve accessibility to said documentation for interested stakeholders. Researchers will collect social data through surveys and interviews of stakeholders about their perceptions of sea-level rise planning efforts, and challenges and opportunities for coordination. Results will be brought back to stakeholders through presentations and workshops. 

Results from this research can be used to help improve coordinated efforts for addressing sea-level rise at regional and national levels. Such social science research can help improve the processes of integrating stakeholder engagement with management needs of scientists and governing agencies, and inform more integrated approaches in other regions seeking climate solutions.

Co-principal Investigators