Washington, D.C. – A study released earlier this week, looked closely at 29 beaches along the West Coast, over a thousand miles in coast line. From Washington down to Southern California, investigators found that winter beach erosion was 76% higher than normal.
The majority of the erosion happened during the 2015-1016 El Nino. By far the worst ever recorded, .Experts say that if El Nino events become more common in the future, If severe El Niño events such as this one become more common in the future the coast will become increasingly vulnerable to coastal hazards.
The primary source of sand, at least to California beaches is rivers. But since they had a drought for so long, the resulting lower river flows meant less sand was being carried to the coast to help sustain beaches.
As far as Pacific Northwest beaches, ours were buffered from catastrophic damage and according to Oregon State University coastal hazards expert Peter Ruggiero, several of our beaches experienced significant retreat and it may take a while for them to build back up. Ruggiero said “ we’re not completely recovered yet and it may take years for some beaches to build back up. After the 1997-98 El Niño, it took some beaches a decade to recover.”
You can read the full report if you’d like “Extreme oceanographic forcing and coastal response due to the 2015-16 El Niño,” online in the journal “Nature Communications.”