Study Estimates Southern California Beach Erosion Due To Rising Sea Level


The beaches of Southern California continue to be eroded and the rising sea levels could be the reason for the shoreline's depletion.

A new study predicts that the iconic shoreline, which stretches from Santa Barbara to San Diego, is in danger of being completely worn out by the end of the 21st century.

The study forecasts that a majority of Southern Californian beaches and cliffs would be eroded by the end of this century. The scientists used a computer dubbed CoSMoS-COAST to make their predictions.

The scientists are fearful that with "limited human intervention" nearly 31 percent to 67 percent of the beaches in Southern California could get "completely eroded" by 2100. This would occur because of a rise in seal levels of 0.93m to 2m.

"Beaches are perhaps the most iconic feature of California, and the potential for losing this identity is real," noted Sean Vitousek, lead author of the study. "Beaches are natural resources, and it is likely that human management efforts must increase in order to preserve them."

How Will California Be Affected?

The primary concern of the researchers is the expected rise in sea levels. In 2015, a NASA study predicted that the Earth's sea level would rise at an alarming rate.

The current forecast is cause for alarm for the government as the 310-mile long coastal line is among the most densely-populated areas in the country, and is home to over 20 million people. It is also home to some of the most posh residential areas like Orange County, Los Angeles, and other Westside neighborhoods.

"The prospect of losing so many [of] 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," said John Ainsworth, the state Coastal Commission Executive Director, in a statement to the American Geophysical Union.

Beaches and shores are the first line of defense against hurricanes and coastal storms. Scientists speculate that if proper action is not taken to counter erosion, flooding of coastal areas like Venice in Los Angeles, will become increasingly common.

Losing the beaches will not just impact tourism, but also expose homes, businesses, and the infrastructure to critical damage.

What Is The Way Out?

One of the ways to deflect this scenario is to refurbish the Southern California beaches with more sand. However, this is a temporary solution and is already deployed by the government. Levees, sea walls, and other beach-conserving devices may possibly work toward countering erosion.

Another option is to shift all the residences and businesses inland. However, this solution is not pragmatic. Therefore, scientists urge environmentalists and people to ramp up conversation methods to address the problem.

The study has been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface.

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