Enabling Californians to understand groundwater inundation hazards

Coastal communities need a comprehensive assessment of future hazards to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. Currently, Sea Level Rise (SLR)‐driven coastal hazards associated with groundwater, such as inundation and saltwater intrusion, have not been assessed across the state despite severe impacts in some communities. University of Southern California (USC) Sea Grant funded a project to assess the exposure of coastal communities across California to SLR‐driven groundwater inundation. The project aims to integrate the groundwater projections into the Our Coast Our Future (OCOF) web tool for data dissemination and access for California stakeholders to understand how to apply them to local coastal planning.

Key Results:

  • The project has finalized groundwater projections and is working on flood models 
  • USGS published the study’s cliff retreat data for Northern California on Sciencebase.gov


Project Impacts & Application:

  • OCOF public tool launched in 2023, and data is being added
  • Eight stakeholder organizations are already using the data, including the California Department of Transportation as part of the 2023 update to the State Highway System Management Plan
  • USC Sea Grant created a Storymap


Principal Investigators:

  • Patrick Barnard, Ph.D., US Geological Survey 
  • Michael Fitzgibbon, Point Blue 
  • Kevin Befus, University of Arkansas



California Ocean Protection Council, 2018-2021

Additional Info


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