Southern California coastal cliffs could retreat 135 feet in 80 years as erosion rates potentially double

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USGS scientists combined a series of computer models to forecast cliff erosion along the Southern California coast.

House perched above the ocean on a cliff.

Cliff and cliff-top development in Isla Vista, southern California. Photo by Patrick Limber, USGS

USGS scientists combined a series of computer models to forecast cliff erosion along the Southern California coast. Their results were published June 19 in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface. The research showed that for the highest sea-level rise considered by the paper (2 meters, or about 6 ½ feet), bluff tops along nearly 300 miles of Southern California coast could lose an average of 135 feet by 2100—and much more in some areas. Coastal managers could be faced with a difficult decision to prioritize bluff-top property or public beaches by permitting or prohibiting armoring. Learn more in the USGS news release posted July 9.

Articles about this paper appeared in various news outlets:

San Clemente Times: “USGS: Rising Sea Levels Threaten California Coastal Bluffs
Washington Post: “California will face a terrible choice: Save cliff-side homes or public beaches from rising seas
San Jose Mercury News: “California will face a terrible choice: Save cliff-side homes or public beaches from rising seas
Daily Mail (UK): “Southern California coast headed for crisis: USGS warns rising sea levels could DOUBLE cliff erosion rates in the next few decades
The Real Deal (Los Angeles real estate news): “SoCal’s sea level rise will put prime properties at risk: report