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Assessing and communicating the impacts of climate change on the Southern California coast

August 1, 2018

Over the course of this and the next century, the combination of rising sea levels, severe storms, and coastal erosion will threaten the sustainability of coastal communities, development, and ecosystems as we currently know them. To clearly identify coastal vulnerabilities and develop appropriate adaptation strategies for projected increased levels of coastal flooding and erosion, coastal managers need user-friendly planning tools based on the best available climate and coastal science. In anticipation of these climate change impacts, many communities are in the early stages of climate change adaptation planning but lack the scientific information and tools to adequately address the potential impacts. In collaboration with leading scientists worldwide, the USGS designed the Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS) to assess the coastal impacts of climate change for the California coast, including the combination of sea level rise, storms, and coastal change. In this project, we directly address the needs of coastal resource managers in Southern California by integrating a vast range of global climate change projections and translate that information using sophisticated physical process models into planning-scale physical, ecological, and economic exposure, shoreline change, and impact assessments, all delivered in two simple, user-friendly, online tools. Our results show that by the end of the 21st century, over 250,000 residents and nearly $40 billion in building value across Southern California could be exposed to coastal flooding from storms, sea level rise, and coastal change. Results for the other major population center in California (the greater San Francisco Bay Area) are also available but not explicitly discussed in this report. Together, CoSMoS has now assessed the exposure of 95% of the 26 million coastal residents of the State (17 million in Southern California).

Publication Year 2018
Title Assessing and communicating the impacts of climate change on the Southern California coast
Authors Li H. Erikson, Patrick L. Barnard, Andrea C. O'Neill, Patrick Limber, Sean Vitousek, Juliette Finzi Hart, Maya Hayden, Jeanne M. Jones, Nathan J. Wood, Michael Fitzgibbon, Amy C. Foxgrover, Jessica Lovering
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype State or Local Government Series
Series Number CCCA4-CNRA-2018-013
Index ID 70199940
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center