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29 Feb 2012: Rising Seas To Have Uneven
Consequences for California Beach Towns

Rising sea levels projected over the next century could trigger uneven economic gains and losses for towns along the California coast, according to a new study. Using a series of models to predict the effects of climate-related sea level rise at 51 Southern California beaches, researchers projected that some beaches
South Laguna Beach
Wikimedia Commons
South Laguna Beach
could shrink or disappear altogether, while others can be expected to remain relatively large. According to their study, published in the journal Climate Change, a 1-meter rise in sea levels would reduce the width of all beaches. But as smaller beaches diminish, many beachgoers are expected to drive farther to enjoy wider shores. Small beaches, such as Laguna Beach, could lose $14 million annually, while larger beaches, such as Huntington Beach, could gain $16 million annually. “Some beaches actually stand to benefit economically from sea level rise, creating winners and losers among California beach towns,” said Linwood Pendleton of Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and lead author of the study. The study also found that a single year of severe winter storms and high tides — and the consequent erosion at some beaches and added sand at others — could cause upward and downward revenue swings of about $25 million annually.

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