Southern CA coastal response to the last El Niño

Sarah Giddingsnews

With an El Niño watch ongoing this winter, this recent publication with lead author Adam Young looks back at the 2015-2016 El Niño response along the Southern California coastline, particularly focusing on the morphodynamic changes (erosion/accretion) seen along our beaches, estuaries, and cliffs. Key findings are that the coastal change is highly variable spatially with some regions showing erosion, some showing accretion, and the average being moderate erosion. The relatively moderate response is attributed to the wave angle and the coastline shape sheltering Southern California from the largest waves, minimal rainfall, and the fortunate asynchronous timing of the largest waves and largest tides. Investigating how the 2015-2016 El Niño impacts our coastlines gives us an idea of how our coasts may be affected under future climate scenarios where similar storm tracks and wave angles are predicted.