Jenna Wisniewski joins California Sea Grant’s efforts to build resilient coastlines

Boyce Upholt

California Sea Grant is excited to announce that Jenna Wisniewski has joined our team as a Staff Research Associate. As a member of the extension team, Wisniewski focuses on expanding communities’ capacity to adapt to increasing sea level rise and other coastal hazards through scientific research and clear communication.

Wisniewski earned a master’s degree in environmental science and management from the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she specialized in coastal marine resources management. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.

As a part of her new role, Wisniewski directs the Community Alliance for Surveying the Topography of Sandy Beaches (CoAST SB), a long-standing citizen-science program that tracks changes to the coastline in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. She recruits and trains the community volunteers who take monthly measurements of the beach topography. The data are used to track seasonal and long-term trends on California’s beaches.

“Increased winter storm events have had a big impact on sand coverage at our local beaches,” says Wisniewski. “That impacts the structure of the beach, not just physically, but also its ecology and the way people are able to enjoy the coast. It highlights the impacts we could see from sea level rise and climate events in the future.”

Wisniewski will also create maps and other visuals that educate stakeholders, including local beachgoers, about changes to California’s beaches. Wisniewski has already created several interactive tools, including a new website that showcases the data collected by CoAST SB. Working in collaboration with the Beach Erosion Authority for Clean Oceans and Nourishment (BEACON), Wisniewski also created a coastal monitoring dashboard that displays data collected by various physical, ecological and socio-economic monitoring efforts. The dashboard helps identify gaps in monitoring and opportunities for inter-agency collaboration.

Furthermore, Wisniewski is working with the California Dune Science Network to map California's coastal dune system. The resulting tool will be used as an evaluative resource, clarifying best practices for restoration and allowing for ongoing monitoring of dune restoration projects.

“California is home to some of the most beautiful coastlines, dunes, beaches and coastal communities in the U.S. I’m happy to have made California my home and work with Sea Grant to enhance and protect these iconic spaces.”

About California Sea Grant

NOAA’s California Sea Grant College Program funds marine research, education and outreach throughout California. Headquartered at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, California Sea Grant is one of 34 Sea Grant programs in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.