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Climate Change Beach Warning

For several years we have been hearing about rising sea levels and the loss of oceanfront land as a result. Living at the beach, we’re obviously concerned about the flooding potential for multi-million dollar Strand properties, our local harbors, and Catalina Island.

To our surprise and delight, the rising ocean levels have both negative and positive impacts. The United States Geological Service (USGS) has been studying the issue for some time as part of their Coastal and Marine Geology Program. The report titled Why research on climate change and sea-level rise is important, notes, In California alone, roughly half a million people and $100 billion worth of coastal property are at risk during the next century.”

Specifically speaking of the southern California coast, the USGS says, “In southern California, the team identified places particularly vulnerable to climate change, such as Venice, Marina Del Ray, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and many areas around San Diego.

As it turns out, our three Beach Cities will actually gain beachfront sand, assuming current conditions continue. Decades of study have shown the coastline in northern California erodes, losing soil to the ocean, while in southern California, the coast accretes, gaining soil.

Of course, no one knows if the Pacific Ocean will rise fast enough to exceed the rate of accretion, or not.

The UN is warning that we are now on course for 3C of global warming, with the latest projections pointing to an increase of 3.2C by 2100. If this comes to pass, it will ultimately redraw the map of the world as low lying areas are inundated.

The map on the right shows Manhattan Beach gaining from .5-2 meters of sand by the year 2100. Hermosa Beach gains slightly less, at approximately .5 meters.

Most of Redondo Beach falls into a coastal category known as “cliff retreat” because of the high bluffs above the beach, as does all of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. We’ll look at that in a future issue.

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