UC Santa Barbara Researcher Says El Nino Produced Severe Beach Erosion Despite Little Rain

Feb 20, 2017

Last season’s El Nino didn’t bring a lot of rain to Southern California. But, a UC Santa Barbara researcher says it may a have actually been one of the most powerful climate events in the last 150 years.

Ecologist David Hubbard with UCSB’s Marine Science Institute is among a team of researchers who examined the 2015/2016 El Nino and its impact on beach erosion of the Pacific Coast. The results were astonishing.

“The erosion was 76% higher than normal. Most of the beaches in California eroded beyond their historic extremes.”

Scientists collected data from 29 beaches along more than 1,200 miles of coastline.

Hubbard said they concluded that last year’s El Nino produced strong waves that caused significant erosion.

“We did not get a lot of rain. So, the streams did not bring much sand back down to the coast to rebuild the beaches.”

He said with the climate warming up, El Ninos getting more frequent and sea levels rising, severe beach erosion could become the norm.