Sea level rise, increasing storms and the Pacific coast

Storm waves hitting central Oregon coastNEWPORT – Oregon State University geoscientist Peter Ruggiero will speak at the Hatfield Marine Science Center tonight (Oct. 25) on “The Role of Sea Level Rise and Increasing Storminess in PNW Coastal Change and Flood Hazards.”

The talk starts at 7 pm in the Hennings Auditorium at the HMSC Visitor Center.

Ruggiero is part of a team of scientists from OSU and the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries who have been studying increased storm activity and resulting wave height off the Oregon coast, and its effects on erosion, flooding and other hazards.

This past January, the team published an assessment suggesting that maximum heights could be as much as 40 percent higher than previous record levels, especially in the stormy winter months of December and January.  The report said that the cause of these dramatically higher waves is not completely certain, but “likely due to Earth’s changing climate.”

Combined with the effects of sea level rise, higher maximum waves could have implications for erosion, flood control, property damage and development regulations up and down the Pacific Northwest coast.

Ruggiero’s team has received support for its work from Oregon Sea Grant (2008-2010) and from the NOAA Climate Program.

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