Monday, September 12, 2011

The Impact of Climate Change on the Oregon Coast

The damage done recently by hurricanes along the east coast provides dramatic evidence of the impacts of climate change on vulnerable coastal communities. So far, the west coast has appeared to be exempt from such natural disasters, but this reprieve is unlikely to last forever. Higher ocean levels, erosion of coastlines, and more violent storms will cause damage to land and buildings along the coast. How will we prepare for what the future is sure to bring? One way is to be informed and understand the forces at work.

For the past forty years, Oregon Shores/Coast Watch has worked to keep our beaches accessible to the public, to keep them clean, and to increase our understanding of the coastal environment. Not surprisingly, Oregon Shores has taken on the challenge of climate change as well.

This is the topic of the Oregon Shores 28th annual conference, to be held this year on Saturday, September 17, in Newport. The lineup of speakers represents a depth of knowledge which we all need to understand and prepare for what climate change is likely to do to our coastal communities.

Al Solomon, a recently retired global change ecologist who was head of the U.S. Forest Service’s climate research team in Washington DC, will speak on “Climate Change and Its Impacts on Coastal Oregon.”    

Steve Adams, managing director of the Climate Leadership Initiative, associated with Willamette University, will discuss “Preparing for Climate Change on the Oregon Coast: Insights for Local Climate Adaptation From Initiatives Around the Country.”

Also speaking will be Oregon State University historian William Robbins. His talk, “Industrializing Oregon’s Coastal Watersheds: The Consequences of Hubris” will explore ways in which human activity has changed the coastal landscape over the past two centuries.

Finally, geologist George Priest of the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries will address the question “The March 2011 Tsunami: Could It Happen Here?”

There are other activities planned, including a luncheon, a dinner cruise of Yaquina Bay, and a bonfire in Nye Beach. For more information about the conference or to register offline, contact Pat Wolter, 503 647-2012, or email: For online registration, visit

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