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Rosemary Knight Testifies Before California Assembly Select Committee on Sea Level Rise and the California Economy

Rosemary Knight, Stanford Professor of Geophysics and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, testified before the Assembly’s Select Committee on Sea Level Rise and the California Economy when it held the second of four statewide hearings in Half Moon Bay on July 17, 2013. Chaired by Assemblyman Richard Gordon, the committee had three sessions on its agenda for the hearing:

Impact of Sea Level Rise on Coastal Agriculture
Impact of Sea Level Rise on Fishing and Aquaculture Industry and the Effects of Ocean Acidification
Impact of Sea Level Rise on Tourism

Knight spoke in the first session along with Mary Scruggs, Supervising Engineering Geologist, Department of Water Resources and Norm Groot, Executive Director, Monterey County Farm Bureau. Her presentation Sentinel Geophysics: Imaging Saltwater Intrusion Monterey to Santa Cruz CA highlighted the potential use of geophysical methods as a means of acquiring the data required to 1) map the current complex spatial distribution of saltwater and freshwater along the California coast and 2) provide ongoing monitoring of saltwater intrusion to allow for adaptive groundwater management. A dataset acquired in the fall of 2012 provided a stunning example of using electrical conductivity measurements to provide a 2D image showing saltwater and freshwater to a depth of 150 m along a 7 km stretch of Monterey Bay. Planned for this fall is the acquisition of data to image to a depth of 300 m along a 40 km stretch. This work is being done in collaboration with Adam Pidlisecky (University of Calgary) and Tara Moran (Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford). Throughout the testimony Knight emphasized the need for a large-scale perspective on the problem noting that neither groundwater nor seawater stop at jurisdictional boundaries. Her final statement: “There need to be drivers at the state level for a proactive program of consistent and reliable measurement and monitoring, before a crisis strikes and it’s too late to respond. Geophysical methods are fantastic tools that can provide the basis for a data-driven, science-driven approach to groundwater management.”