Sea Level Rise

Palo Alto Baylands trail submerged during a 9'7" king tide on January 20, 2019. This approximates anticipated daily high tide levels in 2080. In the Palo Alto Baylands, king tides are tide heights that are nine feet high or greater.

The State of California anticipates that relative sea level rise projections stemming from greenhouse gas emissions and related climate change pose significant economic, environmental and social risks to communities along the San Francisco Bay Shoreline, including the City of Palo Alto. Research shows that these projections may worsen if greenhouse gas emission trajectories continue unabated. Greenhouse gases and thermal expansion are the primary cause of Antarctic and Greenland ice melt which in turn are the primary source of sea level rise globally and in San Francisco Bay.

The City of Palo Alto’s Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment documents potential sea level rise hazards to City and community assets from increments of sea level rise between 12 to 84 inches. This is representative of what may occur through the year 2100 based on the estimates from the State of California Ocean Protection Council Sea Level Rise Guidance (2018). Palo Alto’s Assessment will inform the development of a Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan which will address potential hazards caused by sea level rise and related rising shallow groundwater levels. The goals of the Plan are to preserve and expand habitat, and protect and adapt the City and community. The Adaptation Plan will serve as the Sea Level Rise chapter of the City of Palo Alto Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. Community meetings to discuss the Plan will be held throughout 2023.

Review Palo Alto’s Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment
(PDF, 32MB)

 Picture of the cover of the Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment document.


Sea Level Rise Plan Development Timeline and Milestones

Summer 2022

  • Completed Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment 


  • Community meetings to share Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment and develop Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan 


  • Sea Level Rise Plan development continues 
  • Bring Sea Level Rise Adaption Plan to City Council for approval 


Utilities Advisory Commission Presentation, Palo Alto Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan, August 3, 2022 (begins at 27:30)

Related Projects