The Coastal Resources Commission, when it meets Thursday, Feb. 10, in the Beaufort Hotel, may revamp how it receives updates on sea level rise research.
The commission’s science panel held a virtual meeting Thursday to discuss a revised charge, or directive, from the commission asking the panel to review any new and significant scientific literature and studies on sea level rise annually rather than every five years. The panel discussed the charge, suggested some changes and if it all comes together in time, will go before the commission at the next meeting.
The science panel, a group of volunteer coastal geologists and engineers, provides the commission with scientific data and recommendations related to coastal topics.
The commission, more than a decade ago, tasked the science panel with creating a sea level rise report to be updated every five years for the next 30 years. The first report was released in 2010 and an updated report in 2016.
The panel was gearing up to work on the 2020 update but was delayed due to COVID-19 and was waiting for new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, numbers. While in the holding pattern, the 2020 NC Climate Science Report was released, Tancred Miller, policy and planning section chief with the Division of Coastal Management told Coastal Review. 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.
The commission decided during its September 2021 meeting to change the charge and ask the science panel for an annual review “because there are a number of other sources now for comparable sea level rise assessments and projections, including the 2020 NC Climate Science Report,” Miller said.
The commission members “felt the panel’s time would be better spent keeping them up to date on significant developments, rather than duplicating other work,” Miller said about moving to an annual review rather than a five-year update.
The new draft charge reads as follows:
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 conduct an annual review of any new and significant scientific literature and studies that address the range of implications of sea level rise at the State, sub-regional, and local scales. This review should include any key data or information gaps that should be prioritized for additional study and/or funding opportunities.
The Panel should present their findings to the Commission and the public on an annual basis, in the form of oral presentations and/or written briefs/fact sheets.
Science panel members suggested a few edits to the charge during the meeting, particularly “the range of implications of sea level rise,” which Miller said will likely be clarified.
“If the panel settles on a charge they are comfortable within the next few days, we will present it to the CRC next week,” Miller said. “They seemed to be in consensus on the nature of changes and questions, so it’s just a matter now of wordsmithing.”
He added that the panel is not scheduled to meet again.
Interested parties may submit comments at the meeting or by email to DCMcomments@ncdenr.gov. List “Science Panel” in the subject line.