Will california be underwater?

According to current projections, two-thirds of Southern California's famous beaches could be mostly underwater by 2100. For example, research suggests that more than 330 facilities in California that contain hazardous materials and are being regulated by U. Mark Gold, the Governor's Undersecretary for Coastal and Ocean Policy, said that seawater pushing into deep and shallow groundwater is a threat that California can't ignore it. Given the significant public infrastructure, housing, natural resources and commerce located along California's 840 miles of coastline, the certainty of rising sea levels poses a serious and costly threat.

A recent dispatch from the California Department of Transportation warns that almost the entire route from Novato to Vallejo could be “permanently submerged as early as 2040 due to rising weather crises and rising sea levels caused by climate change. From northern to southern California, scientists and planners are awakening to the reality that rising sea levels will threaten not only California's beautiful coastline, but also areas once considered least vulnerable to flooding. California is firmly planted in the upper part of the earth's crust in a place where it spans two tectonic plates. SLR has the potential to impact freshwater resources Californians rely on for drinking, bathing and farming in two main ways.

This report aims to help the Legislature and the public deepen their knowledge of the threats California faces from SLRs. However, because shallow groundwater is not for drinking, few people have studied or understood this layer of water in California. Millions of California residents visit the coast annually to fish, swim, surf and enjoy nature, particularly along one-third of the coastline owned by the state park system. Although they would have substantial impacts, the SLR scenarios shown in Figure 1 likely underestimate the increase in water levels that coastal communities in California will actually experience in the coming decades.

In addition, potential beach erosion associated with SLR would affect not only Californians' access and enjoyment of key public resources, but also local economies that rely on beaches. The non-profit organization Climate Central of Strauss conducted the research and created striking images of iconic places around the world, including some parts of Southern California, such as Long Beach and Huntington Beach, which are affected by rising sea levels. Researchers found that 15 wastewater treatment plants in California will be exposed to flooding with three feet of SLR, which will grow to 36 facilities with six feet of SLR. However, rising sea levels will also trigger other natural processes along the California coast that could cause negative impacts, such as erosion and rising groundwater levels.

Damage to public infrastructure along California's coastline represents one of the biggest threats to SLR, as these assets are key components of state and local public health, transportation, and commerce systems.

Wade Rueckert
Wade Rueckert

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