USGS study finds most California beaches eroded more than ever before last winter

(S.F. Examiner file photo)

(S.F. Examiner file photo)

Most beaches in California eroded beyond historical extremes this past winter amid one of the most powerful El Niño climate events of the last 145 years, U.S. Geological Survey scientists have found.

In a study released Tuesday, USGS scientists surveyed 29 beaches along the West Coast, from Washington to southern California, and found that winter beach erosion was 76 percent above normal for the 2015-16 winter — the highest ever recorded by far.

Along with the El Niño winters of 1982-83 and 1997-98, the 2015-16 El Niño was one of the strongest ever recorded.

The study also found most California beaches experienced more erosion than they ever had before.

“Wave conditions and coastal response were unprecedented for many locations during the winter of 2015-16,” Patrick Barnard, USGS geologist and lead author of the report, said in a statement. “The winter wave energy equaled or exceeded measured historical maximums along the U.S. West Coast, corresponding to extreme beach erosion across the region.”

To gauge erosion, the authors of the study assessed seasonal changes on 29 beaches along about 1,243 miles of the West Coast by creating 3-D surface maps, and using GPS topographic surveys and measurements of sand levels along with wave and water level data from each beach between 1997 and 2016.

The full report, “Extreme oceanographic forcing and coastal response due to the 2015-16 El Niño,” was published online Tuesday in the journal “Nature Communications.”
California

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Deputy public defender Chris Garcia outside the Hall of Justice on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
As pandemic wanes, SF public defender hopes clients will get ‘their day in court’

Like other attorneys in San Francisco, Deputy Public Defender Chris Garcia has… Continue reading

Hyphen hosts a group show at Space Gallery in San Francisco in 2010. (Photo courtesy of Albert Law/Pork Belly Studio)
What’s in a name? Asian American magazine fights to keep its identity

An investor-backed media group laid claim to the moniker of SF’s long-running Hyphen magazine, sparking a conversation about writing over community history

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fight over ‘poverty tows’ heats up

‘What can we do to ensure the vehicle stays in the hands of the owner?’

Crab fisherman Skip Ward of Marysville casts his crab net out off a pier near Fort Point. (Craig Lee/Special to The	Examiner)
San Francisco came back to life, and we captured it all

Last spring, in the early days of the pandemic, the bestselling authors… Continue reading

Revelers at Madrone Art Bar in the early hours of June 15, 2021 (Courtesy Power Quevedo).
No social distancing at Motown-themed dance party

‘I don’t care how anyone feels, I just want to dance!’

Most Read