Friday, September 16, 2011

Study predicts sea level rise may take economic toll on California coast

San Francisco State University News: California beach towns could face hefty economic losses caused by sea level rise in the next century, according to a new state-commissioned study conducted by economists at San Francisco State University. The study forecasts the economic impact of sea level rise on five communities: Ocean Beach in San Francisco; Venice Beach and Malibu in Los Angeles; Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County; and Torrey Pines State Reserve in San Diego County.

Funded by the California Department of Boating and Waterways, the study examines the cost of coastal storm damage and erosion, both of which are expected to increase as sea levels rise. It also forecasts the economic impact of sea level rise on tourism and natural habitats, as beaches that have been narrowed by erosion lose their appeal to visitors and their ability to sustain wildlife.

The results suggest that visitor hotspots like Venice Beach could lose up to $440 million in tourism revenue between now and 2100 if sea levels rise by 4.6 feet (1.4 meters), a projection specific to the California coast, based on recent scientific studies. At San Francisco's Ocean Beach, accelerated erosion could cause up to $540 million worth of damage.

"Sea level rise will send reverberations throughout local and state economies," said Philip King, associate professor of economics at San Francisco State University. "We also found that the economic risks and responses to a changing coastline will vary greatly over time and from beach to beach."

The findings suggest that the cost and type of damage will vary depending on a community's economy, geography and local decisions about land use. For example, if sea level rises by 4.6 feet, Malibu beaches could lose almost $500 million in accumulated tourism revenue between now and 2100. Revenue losses would be much smaller at San Francisco's windswept Ocean Beach ($82 million), which attracts fewer visitors per year....

Rock formations at Point Lobos, near Monterey, California, shot by Mbz1, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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