The impact of sea-level rise on coastal erosion: using the coming 2015-2016 El Niño as a surrogate for 50-100 years of expected sea-level rise in central California.

Start/End: February, 2016 to May, 2016

Climate change is expected to bring sea levels is increased coastal erosion of beaches and sea cliffs, putting California’s coastal residents and properties at risk. This project will quantify the extent of coastal change in beaches and sea cliffs as a result of both the expected El Niño storms during the winter of 2015- 2016 and the rise in sea level as a result of El Niño. Investigators will use high-resolution airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data from 2006 and 2009-2011, as well as new terrestrial LiDAR data, to measure erosion from beaches and sea cliffs, develop a slope change model for sea cliffs, and to anticipate future erosion impacts. The temporal window provided by the El Niño event, while comparatively short, will provide an important surrogate for what sea level is likely to resemble in future decades. Project results will assist predictions of what will occur as sea level rises 20 or more centimeters during the 21st century along the coastline of California.