During the winter of 2015-2016, the powerful El Nino has produced a lot of damages, including massive beach erosion. The coastline of California was dramatically affected by the hurricane. The levels of rainfall were lower compared to previous years. Nevertheless, the US Geological Survey suggested that the beach erosion was the most severe one registered in more than 145 years.
- Scientists indicated that the powerful El Nino from 2015-2016 has severely affected Californian beaches.
- Beach erosion was severe, being characterized as the most toughest one in the last 145 years.
- Researchers argued that the beach erosion level was 76% above the normal limit.
The new study was published on February 14. Researchers had analyzed about 1243 miles along the West Coast starting with Washington and ending up in Southern California. They had developed 3D surface maps, measured water, wave and sand levels at each beach and developed GPS topographical surveys. They published their findings in the Nature Communications online magazine.
Based on the data provided by the US Geological Survey, winter beach erosion has affected approximately 29 beaches along California, Washington and Oregon coasts, being 76% above the average limit. Moreover, many beaches in California eroded beyond historical extremes. This was declared to be the highest beach erosion ever recorded.
Patrick Bernard, a USGS geologist and also the lead author of the new study, argued that regarding the water resources perspective, El Nino from last year was considered a washout due to uncommonly low rainfall which was registered primarily in Southern California. The area recorded about 70% less rainfall compared to the last two El Ninos.
Nevertheless, the waves which damaged the coast were developed from storms which came across the North Pacific, being categorized as the largest waves ever recorded. Bernard also noted that the low level of rainfall indicated that the coastal rivers produced a small quantity of sand to fill the sand which was lost from the beaches. Thus, recovery of the sand was slow. Researchers estimated that for some beaches it could take decades to recover.
However, scientists predicted that there might be more El Ninos like the one from 2015-2016, most likely even being more severe than this one, producing greater damages. If this happens, people who live in the area or work along the beaches in California may experience some terrible consequences.
Recently, the beachfront residents in Pacifica were asked to abandon the area because of the severe beach erosion that affected the nearby cliff face. Based on the new study, the coastal region will gradually become vulnerable to coastal hazards.
Image source: wikipedia