More than half of SoCal beaches could erode by 2100, study predicts

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- More than half of Southern California's beaches could completely erode back to coastal infrastructure or sea cliffs by year 2100 as the sea level rises, according to a study.

The study, which was released on Monday, used a new computer model to predict shoreline effects caused by the rise of sea levels and changes in storm patterns.

The research found that with limited human intervention, about 31 to 67 percent of the beaches could vanish over the next eight decades. The study also found that the sea level could rise 3.3 feet to 6.5 feet within that same timeline.

According to study lead author Sean Vitousek, human efforts will likely need to increase to preserve the beaches.

"Beaches are perhaps the most iconic feature of California, and the potential for losing this identity is real," Vitousek said in a statement. "The effect of California losing its beaches is not just a matter of affecting the tourism economy. Losing the protecting swath of beach sand between us and the pounding surf exposes critical infrastructure, businesses and homes to damage."

The computer model looks at how sand is transported parallel and perpendicular to beaches as well as historical positions of shorelines and changes caused by waves and cycles such as the ocean warming phenomenon El Nino.

Researchers said the model's reliability was shown by accurately reproducing shoreline changes seen between 1995 and 2010.

The study was published in the American Geophysical Union's Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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