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2016 El Niño Resulted In Unprecedented Coastline Erosion

First Posted: Feb 15, 2017 05:21 AM EST
Erosion
Some islands from the Pacific's Solomon Islands were vanished due to sea-level rise.
(Photo : Andy Hall/Getty Images)

Southern California - The El Niño last winter may have felt weak for the residents. But frogs being burned from a pot with warm water that is brought to a boil die more often than those that can see the steam from the already hot tub. That being said, the last El Niño was among the most powerful climate events ever seen for the past 145 years.

If this trend continues, some studies suggest that the California coast could become increasingly vulnerable to coastal hazards and the projected sea level rise. The U.S. Geological Survey scientists and their colleagues found that during the 2015-2016 El Niño winter beach erosion on the Pacific Coast was 76 percent above normal, but it is not the first one. Phys.org noted that most beaches in California already eroded beyond their historical extremes.

The results, which were published in the journal Nature Communications, also documented a level of degradation from which some natural systems may not be able to recover. The researchers also concluded that the coast is likely to hold up over climate change. But everybody should prepare in the first place. Patrick Barnard, a coastal geologist, said, "This is likely the kind of El Niño we may experience more in the future."

As the Los Angeles Times reported, the El Niño is a multiyear weather pattern that can bring big storms to the West Coast -- and droughty Southern California had expected rains to last the entire winter. Unfortunately, it did strike hard. The weather pattern, after all, is not limited to the amount of landfall but the strength of the waves pounding the coastline as well. It is with this that they realized the monster El Niño in their hand could have a major toll on the popular Californian beaches.

Besides environmental alterations, there are also economic ramifications for such erosion. Property owners have to bring in millions of dollars to artificially replenish these coveted beach properties, as they are a valuable public resource.

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