OMSI Science Pub Eugene: Sea Level Rise in PNW

OMSI Science Pub Eugene: Sea Level Rise in PNW

Rising Seas and Dissolving Coastlines: What Will Happen in the Pacific Northwest?

With Ray Weldon, PhD, Professor of Structural Geology and Neotectonics at the University of Oregon

As global sea level rises and storm surges increase due to global warming, coastal communities are beginning to develop resiliency plans built on forecasts of water levels well into the 21st century.

In addition to all the uncertainty in future rates of sea level rise, we need to know how much the land under the coast will rise or fall because the effect of both is the net sea level rise our communities will experience. Such forecasts are particularly challenging in the Pacific NW where most of the coast drops during great subduction zone earthquakes but rises between them.

As will be discussed in this talk and shown with examples from Oregon and Washington, until the next great earthquake, coastal uplift will minimize or even defeat global sea level rise, but after the earthquake local sea level on the NW coast will range between 1 to 3 feet higher than it is today.

Ray Weldon is a Professor of Structural Geology at the University of Oregon who studies active faults in the field and works with seismologists, geodesists, and hazard analysts to build forecast models of seismic hazard. Ray attended Pomona College and Caltech, and worked for the US Geological Survey's Earthquake Hazard Program in Menlo Park, CA before coming to Oregon in 1987. Ray serves on the Executive Committee of the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF, the official forecast model for California and Cascadia earthquakes), the Steering Committee for the US National Seismic Hazard Map (that sets National building codes, among many other things), and advises a number of public and private entities including Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern Cal Edison, and the Metropolitan Water District of LA on seismic hazards posed to nuclear power plants, dams, aqueducts and other critical infrastructure.

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