Climate Change at Your Local Beach

Photo: LA Waterkeeper, http://www.flickr.com/photos/santamonicabaykeeper/

Yes, global warming can be a difficult concept to visualize. Who has ever seen an ozone layer after all? But if you look at some of our local beaches, you can already witness the negative effects of climate change.

Some sandy beaches in Malibu are eroding away with each wave that crashes on armored sea walls. Beach parking lots and playgrounds in Huntington Beach become inundated after a winter storm, as storm surges push seawater deeper into the built environment.

Sea level rise is happening now. And it’s only going to get worse. California oceans are expected to rise as much as three feet over the next century, slightly above the global average. And when impacts collide — such as high “king” tides, heavy waves and storm surge — the resulting projected inundation could severely impact our daily lives. Freshwater supplies, wastewater treatment facilities, power plants, and other infrastructure, not to mention public health and the environment, could all be compromised.

The choices we make now on how to adapt to a rising sea will influence our changing shoreline in Los Angeles forever. Heal the Bay’s coastal scientists are working with our beach cities to prepare for coastal climate change by helping them amend their Local Coastal Plans with the California Coastal Commission.

Working together, our Science & Policy and Programs teams are reaching out to local communities to educate Angelenos about the simple steps they can take to adapt to climate change, such as capturing and reusing rainwater and planting drought-tolerant gardens.

As you head to the beach in 2014, hopefully you’ll find some comfort in knowing that Heal the Bay is working to protect this place of relaxation, fun, and respite from pollution. But we’ll also be working with coastal communities to prepare and protect our shorelines from the inexorable tide of sea level rise.

Want to contribute? Help us photograph the extremely high “king” tides. Join the California King Tides Initiative by posting your photos to Instagram with the tags @healthebay and #kingtides.

High Tide King Tides Seal Beach California