Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rising sea level could wipe out California’s billion-dollar beaches

From: All Headline News

Sea-level rise could wipe out California’s coastline over the next century, causing major economic losses to the state’s tourism industry.

clearpxlExperts from San Francisco State University revealed last week that sea level in California has risen 8 inches in the last 100 years and could climb another 55 inches by 2100 as increasing global temperatures cause seawater to expand and ice sheets to melt. Beach communities along California’s coastline would be at risk of being submerged. Affected areas would include Carpinteria, Malibu, Venice, and Ocean Beach in San Francisco, and Torrey Pines State Reserve near San Diego.

The disappearance of these beaches are projected to cause California economic losses of anywhere from $600 million to $1 billion.

Researchers used three scenarios to make their predictions: a rise of three feet, a rise of 4.5 feet, and a rise of 6.5 feet. The group estimated the economic loss from flooding and beach erosion. A rise of 4.5 feet by 2100 could cost Venice Beach up to $440 million in tourism and other revenue, according to the study. That number could reach nearly $500 million up the coast in Malibu's Zuma and Broad beaches.

Economic losses could be greatly reduced if authorities efficiently plan for sea-level rise. According to the study, the cost of protecting the shoreline by adding sand to beaches runs only in the tens of millions locally and would prevent beach erosion caused by emergency sea walls in some locations. "Managed retreat" -- the process of moving cities inland from encroaching shores -- would likewise reduce costs and preserve beaches for recreation and wildlife habitat.

The research underscores the pressing need for beach communities to adapt to the rising waters by building sea walls, replenishing beach sand or pushing homes and structures away from the shoreline. The researchers hope that their findings will guide policymakers as they consider future oceanfront development.

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