Half of Iconic California Beaches Lost by 2100

Your Favorite California Beach May Disappear Too Soon

By Michael McLaughlin, March 27 2017

Much of Southern California’s iconic coastline, from Santa Barbara to San Diego, could be “completely eroded” due to rising sea levels by the end of the century, a new study predicts.

Between 31 and 67 percent of the iconic beaches, dunes and cliffs in the area may be washed away by 2100 thanks to climate change unless something’s done to protect the shores, according to the study published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

“This is not a problem that’s going away,” said United States Geological Survey scientist Patrick Barnard, one of the co-authors. “But we can mitigate it.”

The question isn’t whether the seas are rising — it’s a matter of how much. Previous conservative estimates by a United Nations panel said the oceans would rise by 1 meter by the end of the 21st century, but newer data showing the accelerated melting of Antarctic ice may double that rate.

That’s a vital question for the 310 miles of Southern California the scientists examined. The region is home to nearly 20 million people and features some of the most desired real estate in the country, in places like the low-lying Westside neighborhoods of Los Angeles or suburban communities in Orange County.

Beaches provide the “first line of defense” against storms, Barnard said. If humans don’t intervene more decisively to counteract erosion, flooding will become more common and severe in places like LA’s Venice neighborhood, Barnard said. …

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