Look ahead image

From California’s Coyote Point Park, you can watch the San Francisco Bay lapping gently against the shoreline. But last year, many visitors caught a glimpse of a very different landscape.

For several months, San Mateo County provided virtual reality viewfinders showing the expected impacts of climate change on the park. People who looked through them saw large sections underwater.

Papendick: “San Mateo County is one of the most vulnerable counties to sea-level rise.”

That’s Hilary Papendick, climate change and adaptation program manager for the San Mateo County Office of Sustainability.

She says the technology revealed how the park would look if nothing were done to prepare for extensive flooding. It also showed various ideas for adaptation – for example, a raised beach, parking lots set further back from the coast – even a boardwalk.

A futuristic viewfinder on the shoreline shows what #sealevelrise could look like. Click To Tweet

Papendick: “We really want to connect people who might not already be a part of our sea-level rise planning process to what we’re doing.”

For many, seeing is believing. So the viewfinders helped people better understand the threat of sea-level rise, and visualize how San Mateo can adapt.

Papendick: “This is an opportunity for people to actually – rather than just hear numbers and see a map – to know what this would mean here, where people live and work.”

Reporting credit: Peter Bresnan/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image graphic: Created by David McCarthy.

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