South California Beaches: Rising Sea Level Could Erode Most Of The Shoreline By 2100, USGS Report Says

2017-03-28T16:33:20+00:00 March 28, 2017|
A new study shows many areas of coastal California are at risk from sea level rise.  (Credit: Wikipedia / Dirk)

(Click to enlarge) A new study shows many areas of coastal California are at risk from sea level rise. (Credit: Wikipedia / Dirk)

As the water level in the seas and oceans around the world continues to rise, there are many coastal areas that are at risk. A new study by researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) showed that California is definitely one of those places, and that the golden state could find anywhere between a third and two-thirds of its southern beaches completely eroded by 2100.

(From International Business Times / By Himanshu Goenka)–“Using a newly-developed computer model called ‘CoSMoS-COAST’ (Coastal Storm Modeling System – Coastal One-line Assimilated Simulation Tool) scientists predict that with limited human intervention, 31 to 67 percent of Southern California beaches may become completely eroded (up to existing coastal infrastructure or sea-cliffs) by the year 2100 under scenarios of sea-level rise of one to two meters,” a statement about the study on the USGS website said Monday.

This prediction is in direct contrast to the historical trend in Southern California, where the beaches have become larger over time, due to human activity since the 1930s to enlarge the beaches. According to the study’s model, almost all the beaches in the region will suffer some amount of erosion in the coming decades.

Sean Vitousek, lead author of the study, which he conducted while he was a post-doctoral fellow at USGS, and now a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said in the statement: “Beaches are perhaps the most iconic feature of California, and the potential for losing this identity is real. The effect of California losing its beaches is not just a matter of affecting the tourism economy. Losing the protecting swath of beach sand between us and the pounding surf exposes critical infrastructure, businesses and homes to damage. Beaches are natural resources, and it is likely that human management efforts must increase in order to preserve them.”

The movement of sand both along and across beaches, caused by longshore and cross-shore currents respectively, is accounted for by the CoSMoS-COAST model, which also uses historical positions of shorelines — as well as data about changes to beaches in response to waves and climate phenomena like El Niño — to provide reliable forecasts of coastline changes.

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