Effects of Sea Level Rise on the California Coast

by Lesley Ewing, California Coastal Commission, San Francisco, United States,
Jaime Michaels, California Coastal Commission, San Francisco, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '91


Although California is thought to be an emerging coastline which would be little affected by a change in sea level, a 5 foot rise over the next 100 years could have a significant impact along much of the coast. With such a rise, most of California's coastal wetlands would be lost, either unable to keep pace with this rise or else prevented from rising to higher ground due to sea walls or bluffs. Many coastal properties will be inundated and California's famed beaches will be greatly reduced in size. Shoreline protective devices, jetties and breakwaters would all be less effective, having been designed for an earlier, lower sea level. Early examination of possible effects of a change in sea level can be useful for coastal planners and policy makers. Knowledge of possible effects can prevent decisions which eliminate long-term flexibility.

Subject Headings: Coastal protection structures | Sea level | Coastal environment | Sea walls | Coastal management | Beaches | Oceanography | Shores | California | United States

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