Griggs, G. and K. Patsch, 2019. “California’s coastal development: Sea-level rise
and extreme events — where do we go from here?,” Shore & Beach, 87(2), 15-28. https://doi.org/10.34237/1008722
California’s coastal development: Sea-level rise and extreme events — where do we go from here?
Gary Griggs (1) and Kiki Patsch (2)
1) Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences,
University of California Santa Cruz 95064
2) Department of Environmental Science and Resource Management,
California State University, Channel Islands 93012
As sea level continues to rise at an accelerated rate, California’s intensive coastal development and infrastructure is coming under an increasing threat. Whether lowelevation shoreline areas that are subject to flooding at extreme tides and times of storm wave run-up, or construction on eroding bluffs or cliffs, the risks will continue to increase from extreme events but, over the longer term, from continuing sea-level rise. Future sea-level rise values under different greenhouse gas scenarios have recently been projected and adopted by the state to be used in coastal land use planning and decision making. While beach nourishment can provide very short-term protection, and seawalls and revetments can provide somewhat longer-term protection, they both come with significant costs and also environmental impacts. The era of routine armor emplacement is coming to an end in California, and whether designated as relocation or managed retreat, now is the time to make the difficult decisions on how this will be accomplished and what the trigger points will be to initiate the response.