Coastal Review: Coastal Resources Commission to hear annual updates on sea level rise data, research

The Coastal Resources Commission will hear annual reports on sea level rise research from its science panel. [Coastal Review file photo]

By Jennifer Allen, Coastal Review
The Coastal Resources Commission last week adopted a new charge for its science panel to report any new sea level rise data and research annually, rather than update every five years its 2010 report on sea level rise.

During the commission’s meeting in Beaufort Hotel in Beaufort Thursday, Tancred Miller, policy and planning section chief with the Division of Coastal Management, explained to the commission that the science panel held a virtual meeting Feb. 3 to discuss the new directive on reporting sea level rise information to the commission. The science panel provides the commission scientific data and recommendations related to coastal topics.

Related: CRC may change how it receives sea level rise updates

The panel members reviewed the charge and made some edits to clarify what they felt was within their expertise, Miller told the commission Thursday. Essentially, the science panel every year will look at any new data, reports, implications, recommendations and bring any necessary updates to the commission.

The commission adopted the following charge that will go back to the science panel:

The issue of sea level rise is of great importance to the State, its policy makers and the citizens of North Carolina. Periodic updates using current data are vital to help inform planning and decision making.

The Commission therefore requests that the Science Panel meet annually to determine whether any new scientific literature and/or data have become available that have implications on sea level rise projections, or associated inundation-related hazards at the State, sub-regional, and local scales.

If the Panel feels sufficient new information is available to warrant a report, or new analyses, they will present their findings to the Commission and the public in the form of oral presentations and/or written briefs/fact sheets. In this case, the Panel review will include any key data or information gaps that should be prioritized for additional collection/study and/or funding opportunities.

Christy Simmons, the division’s public information officer, told Coastal Review Monday that the science panel has requested the commission determine the range of implications of sea level rise on which the panel should focus.

More than decade ago, the commission asked the science panel to develop a sea level rise report. The first report was released in 2010 and an updated report in 2016. The panel was working on the 2020 update but hit some snags due to COVID-19 and waiting for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, numbers. During that time, the state Department of Environmental Quality released the 2020 North Carolina Climate Science Report.

The report was updated in 2016 and work was underway on the next update when the suggestion to go from every five years to annually was broached at the commission’s September 2021 meeting.

Miller, during the September 2021 commission meeting, mentioned that an update on the sea level rise report was due. In the time since the 2016 report, Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 80 signed October 2018 directed the state to produce a climate science report and resiliency plan, which was released in 2020, plus there are new websites looking at tidal gauges and historic and projected reports on sea level changes.

Because of the new information available, the science panel could provide annual updates on the most current reports and information available to identify North Carolina’s needs and trends instead of a sea level rise update, according to the September meeting minutes.

The division, under the state Department of Environmental Quality, provides staffing services to the commission, implements its rules and issues Coastal Area Management Act, or CAMA, permits.

Interested parties may submit comments at the meeting or by email to Please list “Science Panel” in the subject line.