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Rising Sea Levels Threaten San Diego Beaches

Torrey Pines state and city beaches, and other coastal areas in the state, could be submerged by the year 2100 if ocean levels continue rising at current rates, according to a state-commissioned study released today by San Francisco State University.

A San Diego lifeguard working near the cliffs at Torrey Pines.
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Above: A San Diego lifeguard working near the cliffs at Torrey Pines.

Torrey Pines would be completely swamped if coastal-water levels rise by 4.6 feet by the end of the century -- a projection specific to the California coast based on recent studies, according to the report, which pegged the economic loss due to a reduced tourism at $99 million between now and 2100.

Erosion to roads and the coastal rail line could cause an additional loss of nearly $350 million, the report stated.

"In California, our coastline is one of our most valuable natural resources," said study author Philip King, associate professor of economics at San Francisco State University. "More than 80 percent of Californians live in coastal communities, and California's beaches support local economies and critical natural species."

Parts of Zuma Beach in Malibu, including Broad Beach's "Millionaires Row," could be eroded, as could Venice beach in Los Angeles County, Ocean Beach in San Francisco and Carpinteria beach in Santa Barbara County.

The study was paid for by the Department of Boating and Waterways, aimed at assessing the effects of rising sea levels on beach erosion and loss of habitat.

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