Southern California Beaches Will Almost Disappear By 2100, Report Says

Posted: Mar 28 2017, 11:09pm CDT | by , Updated: Mar 28 2017, 11:15pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

Southern California Beaches will Almost Disappear by 2100, Report Says
Bedrock exposed at low tide along the beach at Isla Vista, California. Credit: Alex Snyder, U.S. Geological Survey

Sea level rise could erode 31 to 67 percent of Southern California beaches by the end of the century

Much of the iconic Southern California beaches would disappear by the end of the century, U.S. Geological Survey report predicts.

Sea level rise is the main force driving beach erosion in Southern California. As the sea level rises, it allows waves to penetrate further inland. The process accelerates the removal of sand and reshapes shorelines faster than ever.

To determine the relative role of sea level rise on beach erosion within the region of Southern California researchers have used a newly-developed computer model called “CoSMoS-COAST” and found that up to 67 percent of the beaches in the region will not survive by the year 2100 under the current trend of sea level rise. If sea level continues to rise the same way (4 to 8 inches), it will end up getting somewhere between one to two meters by the end of the century.

Although changes in shoreline are hard to predict, the assessment of changes in Southern California coastline are likely accurate despite the fact the these beaches are a complex mixture of dunes, bluffs, cliffs, river mouths and urban infrastructure. Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS) is a tried and tested system developed by the United States Geological Survey that allows more accurate predictions of future sea level rise integrated with long-term coastal changes over large geographic areas. By analyzing both the sand dragged to sea and sea level rise, researchers have painted a dire picture of Southern California beaches.

“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” Study lead author Sean Vitousek from U.S. Geological Survey said.

Southern California beaches ranging from Santa Barbara to San Diego also provide first line of defense against coastal storm that will affect millions of people living in the region. Amplified storm surges mean that flooding will become more common and severe in the coastal Southern California unless humans respond more decisively to deal with erosion.

“The public already has to overcome obstacles in getting to the beach from limited public transportation to illegally blocked pathways,” said California Coastal Commission Executive Director John Ainsworth. “The prospect of losing so many our beaches in Southern California to sea level rise is frankly unacceptable. The beaches are our public parks and economic heart and soul of our coastal communities. We must do everything we can to ensure that as much of the iconic California coast is preserved for future generations.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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