Study predicts major Southern California beaches erosion

The agency used a newly developed computer model and factored for limited human intervention into and a continued output of Carbon dioxide emissions in concluding that 67 percent of the beaches in the southern portion of the Golden State could completely disappear by the year 2100.

"The effect of California losing its beaches is not just a matter of affecting the tourism economy", said Vitousek, who is now a professor in the Department of Civil & Materials Engineering at the University of IL at Chicago. "The effect of California losing its beaches is not just a matter of affecting the tourism economy", Sean Vitousek, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

It used a new predictive model called CoSMoS (Coastal Storm Modeling System) to play out scenarios for what beaches would be like in Southern California with predicted sea level rise due to climate change.

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.

The USGS study predicts a loss of 31 percent of beaches if seas rise by 3 feet, with the 67 percent figure derived from a rise of about 6 feet.

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The findings also offer a peek into the expected future rise in sea levels.

The study has been accepted for publication by the American Geophysical Union's Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface.

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.

According to the researchers, the computer model reliability was shown by accurately reproducing shoreline changes seen between 1995 and 2010. "This study indicates that we will have to perform massive and costly interventions to preserve these beaches in the future under the erosive pressures of anticipated sea level rise, or risk losing numerous economic and protective benefits beaches provide", said U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) geologist and coauthor, Patrick Barnard.

- Southern California beaches are vanishing according to scientists.

The good news is that there are steps that can be taken to protect beaches from the erosion that's on the way.

More than half of Southern California's beaches could be gone by the end of the century. He says that their beaches are their public parks and the economic heart and soul of their coastal communities.

"We must do everything we can to ensure that as much of the iconic California coast is preserved for future generations", Ainsworth said.

  • Carolyn Briggs