Pacific Coast Highway at Sycamore Canyon

The destruction caused by coastal storms in Malibu and its neighboring communities along the Pacific coast is anticipated to increase as ocean levels rise throughout the 21st century, according to a recent study by the City of Los Angeles and USC. 

"The next step is crafting policies that reduce risk and protect the public today," Jonathan Parfrey, the executive director of Climate Resolve, an LA-based nonprofit that works with the government to help prepare for climate change, told the LA Times.

The results of the study highlight a need for investment in protecting coastal areas from storm damage, which will be crucial for the continuing prosperity of local communities.

One major risk Malibu faces in the coming decades will be Pacific Coast Highway. Even at current ocean levels, severe storms can breach the highway, causing dangerous driving conditions and traffic jams, as well as blocking emergency vehicles. With the sea rising, the study predicts, even moderate storms could cause massive damage to the delicate roadway, possibly endangering lives – especially as the PCH is a key evacuation route for many Malibu residents.

In addition, the Pacific Coast Highway serves as a major route for tourists to come in and out of Malibu. However, without careful precautions, Malibu’s famous beaches could quickly become a thing of memory, the study found. The authors of the study suggest some solutions that could keep the tourist industry here in Malibu, as well as preserve the beaches for local residents to enjoy, including the construction of groins, jetties and breakwaters.

It does appear, however, that Malibu is ahead of the curve when it comes to coastal protection. Rocks have been brought in as armoring to protect the roadway from destructive high tides help protect the coast, the study said, and serve as an example of an adaptation strategy that could be implemented in other areas of the coast.

Secondly, the proposed project to replenish the sand at Broad Beach could make Malibu a leader amongst local communities in preserving its natural landscape. On top of the aesthetic and economic benefits of preserving local beaches, they can serve as crucial buffers to high waves.  With many residents living along the water, preserving beaches could pay off in the future.

While work to slow global warming continues, researchers and policymakers are now turning toward adaptation and protection in the face of climate change.

The report, published in December, collected data from coastal regions surrounding Los Angeles, from as far north as the LA County Line down to LA Harbor and Port Los Angeles. Amongst its chief concerns were utilities and transportation infrastructure, beaches and the water supply. The scientists then used computer simulation to predict what effect the projected levels of rising water in the coming decades could have on these critical resources.

(22) comments

Steve Woods

Maybe it was Al Gore , the master profiteer of the FUD inside that Kermit the Frog suit next to PCH with the "Malibu Massacre" " Wave will be destroyed" sign or a "the artic ice will be Gone by 2013 " or " Deadlier Hurricanes and Tornado's will increase every year " " Major Coastal Cities will be swamped by 2020"
Time will tell Hans if more of Al Gores false claims come true .
Yes ,97 % of scientist are in agreement that Climate is Changing but not all scientist are in agreement as to why or what degree is natural or caused by mans impact on the environment .
Cooling waters in the tropical Pacific Ocean appear to be a major factor in dampening global warming in recent years, scientists said on Wednesday.
Their work is a big step forward in helping to solve the greatest PUZZLE of current climate change research – why global average surface temperatures, while still on an upward trend, have risen more slowly in the past 10 to fifteen years than previously.
Waters in the eastern tropical regions of the Pacific have been notably COOLER in recent years, owing to the effects of one of the world's biggest ocean circulatory systems, the Pacific decadal oscillation.
Many people are aware of the El Niño and La Niña weather systems, which affect the Pacific and bring hotter and stormier or cooler weather in cycles of just a few years, and can have a strong effect on global weather. But few are aware that both of these systems are just part of the much bigger Pacific decadal oscillation, which brings warmer and cooler weather over decades.
The system is now in a cooling phase, scientists have noted, which could last for years. The last such phase was from the 1940s to the 1970s.
The new study by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and supported by the US government's National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), published in the journal Nature, has linked the "pause" in global warming with the Pacific oscillation.

Dan Barrie, programme manager at NOAA, called the research "compelling" and said: "[It] provides a powerful illustration of how the remote eastern tropical Pacific guides the behaviour of the global ocean-atmosphere system, in this case exhibiting a discernible influence on the recent hiatus in global warming."
There are alot of major problems in the world , rising sea levels are not currently one of them .

Hans Laetz

No, the unusually warm northern pacific has caused the jet stream to oscillate wildly, causing wild swings in the polar vortex.

It is empirically not true that "the jury is still out" and that "not all scientists agree." The fact is that the overwhelming 97 percent of science, and the world scientific bodies, agree on what's happening.

You remind me of the lagoonistas. They also had their cherrypicked "science." They also sewed FUD - fear, uncertainty, disinformation.

Steve Woods

Is this the year where the tide has turned from Warming to Cooling ? Many more record low Temps than Record high temps so far this year . Wisdom keeps an open mind that acknowledges that the only permanent thing IS change . Welcome to planet earth and the ability to adapt and improvise as evolution has taught us to survive these persistent changes for millions of years . Long live those who adapt !

Steve Woods

Yes, question all authority and both sides of the Climate issues . Competing interest pay to bend the truth whether it be the Koch Brothers and the Fossil fuel industry or Al Gore who has made millions with fear mongering predictions that summer artic ice would have disappeared by 2013 ( NOT ) , or The Sierra Club that has been paid $25 million by the Natural Gas industry to bad rap the Petroleum industry . The Jury is still out and not ALL scientist agree ,including the ones that depend on Global Warming Grants to perpetuate Billions more in grants and have been busted in cherry picking data and skewing the facts to support their agenda . There is enough propaganda all the way around the political spectrum. Being an independent thinker requires considering all the facts without drinking any polarizing political kool-aid ! In the mean time, my respect to those who have found alternatives to polluting the atmosphere and hopefully the Developing nations along with China will strive for the standards that our own EPA have taken. My biggest concerns are the acidification of our oceans . May the Artic Ice fields continue to increase in size and thickness with the decline of the waning solar flaring cycle .

Hans Laetz

"Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' [linking smoking with disease] that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy...”

Tobacco company Brown and Williamson internal document, 1969

“Skepticism is not believing what someone tells you, investigating all the information before coming to a conclusion. Skepticism is a good thing. Global warming skepticism is not that. It’s the complete opposite of that. It’s coming to a preconceived conclusion and cherry-picking the information that backs up your opinion. Global warming skepticism isn’t skepticism at all.”

John Cook of

Hans Laetz

And we do know, for a fact, that the Koch Brothers have funded millions of dolalrs to organizations that hire trolls to post "we all lnow better than that" items, around the country. Steve, I understand that it has become a political issue for conservatives to deny reality. But that does not change reality.

Hans Laetz

WRONG. "The evidence suggests that the sea-level rise has probably accelerated, to about a foot a century, and scientists think it will accelerate still more with the continued emission of large amounts of greenhouse gases into the air. The gases heat the planet and cause land ice to melt into the sea.

"The official stance of the world’s climate scientists is that the global sea level could rise as much as three feet by the end of this century, if emissions continue at a rapid pace. But some scientific evidence supports even higher numbers, five feet and beyond in the worst case."

NY Times,

The Antarctic ship was trapped because an ice sheet disintegrated and blew across the bay.

The are will be places where precipitation (snow) increases due to the absence of a polar ice sheet.

Glacier meltwater flows into the ocean.

Dani Sue

Science experiment done. Who said that all of that melting ice was in the glass (err,ocean)? Glaciers move on land forms.

Steve Woods

No need to panic about rising sea levels just yet !
Polar sea ice increased 50% over last year, growing from 6,000 to 9,000 cubic kilometers when compared to the same period in 2012. Moreover, this year’s multi-year ice is 30 cm thicker than last year, and scientists claim that thick, multi-year ice indicates healthy Arctic sea-ice cover.
Also during the years that the Artic ice fields were shrinking , Antartica ice fields have been growing to historical high ice extents and even trapped some Global warming Researchers and there rescue ship !

Science experiment time Stoked.....kinda basic, but fill a glass with ice cubes and water to the rim. Observe the level after the ice melts............ Glaciers melting are not going to cause the sea levels to rise anymore then ice cubes melting are not going to overflow a glass of water.

Dani Sue

When ice melts, water level rises. News flash, the ice is melting.

The wide sandy beaches in Malibu were mostly created during the boom years when excess sand from the cretion of harbors was dumped here. Thanks to currents and the damming of natural sand resources, what was here has moved on and what could be here is trapped by man made infrastructure. Get used to the rocky forbidden coastline that was here before you built upon it. Or, feel free to reach deep into you pockets to purchase sand that will eventually move south.

Rebecca Mann

I can't believe there are still people out there who believe in global warming. I thought Malibu of all places had moved past that hoax.

Steve Woods

Tom , Nothing I said conflicts with what you have stated . You are exactly right as I have stated below also . Beach width and depth fluctuate greatly from storm to Storm , season to season , from El Nino to La Nina or this years La Nada , but in the long term ,since our sand sources from our long -shore down coast currents originating from our westerly watersheds have been disrupted , less sediment is getting to the coast . It has been decades and decades since Trancas Point has had the sand to produce the barrels it was once famous for . When was the last time anyone saw Colony beach as wide as the pictures from the 20's and 30's ? The useless sediment obstruction of Rindge dam needs to be taken out for many reasons , one being to replenish our easterly beaches that have been suffering from sand deficiencies .[smile]

Steve Woods

Wallyworld is right . Most of the old pictures of early Malibu show wider beaches, however , there is one photo of Broad Beach at City Hall that shows Broad Beach not looking so Broad . My guess is that picture was taken after several El Nino Seasons that are known for Winters with large West swells that rip out millions of cubic yards of sand . As much sand that was eroded away during winter storms , it was later replenished from the sand producing watersheds of the Santa Clara , Ventura and Collegus creeks and rivers . Those natural sand flows have now been disrupted by urban development . Does anyone know when the Broad beach is going to load the beach with its $20 million worth of sand ? It will be interesting to see how long it takes for that sand to drift down to Zuma and Westward,,, Bring it on , the sooner the better for surfers .

Tom Bates

To prevent the sand from being washed away in 1920, steel groins were installed in the eastern Malibu beaches and then down to Santa Monica to prevent this from happening. The groins are still visible today.

Steve Woods get your facts straight and stop making things up! I have worked on the beach since 1978 and during storms the beach level can rise or fall as much as15 feet.
As in 1982. It comes and goes depending on only one thing. OCEAN STORMS[beam]

Wally World

I've asked my neighbor who's in their 90s and beach front if there's less beach since she bought 50 years ago, and the answer is - yes. The beach is not as wide (from house to shore) as it used to be. Whatever the cause, enough evidence for me.

Stuart Ebert

Sea level rise in this century will not be a major issue because we will intervene as needed to reduce incoming shortwave sunlight and protect Greenland, Antarctica, Arctic Sea ice from melting. Just another engineering problem.
Take a cube of aluminum 100 meters on a side, pulverize to sub-micron size, spray from aircraft at 30,000 ft. Next question.
BTW - that Climate Resolve group sounds like a Heal the Bay-type operation. Bunch of amateurs with really bad ideas.
The rest of you chowderheads might want to contact some real atmospheric scientists like Paul Crutzen, Ken Caldeira and John Latham BEFORE you recommend public policy changes.

Steve Woods

Also ,the giant Sand Dune south of Point Mugu has NOT been shrinking from the hillside because of Sea level rising . If Sea levels have only risen a few millimeters over the last few decades ,why has that dune been diminishing since it is on the mountain side of PCH ? Before the Watershed in the Oxnard plain and Ventura County were developed , sand used to drift across PCH from a wide sandy beach across the street and up the cliffside . Cars would get stuck in 16 inches of deep sand that would drift across the HWY in a 300 yrd stretches back in the late 60's , 70's and early 80's . I spent hours towing cars out in my 4 Wheel Drive Scout . The Dune was much higher and steeper and Skiers would ski down in Bathing suits . Today that dune is a pathetic meager rock ridden memory of its former past when sediment used to freely flow down to the coast from our watersheds . That beach now is mostly cobblestones and gravel and almost devoid of sand as a result of a lack of sand replenishment , thus reducing the capability of that dune to be replenished .

Hans Laetz

Don't ask the scientists. Take it from our friendly realtors! There is nothing, nothing to worry about.

Steve Woods

The beaches in Malibu are diminishing but not as a result of Sea Levels rising . Beaches are not being replenished because sediment sources in our watersheds are being prevented from getting to the coast as a result of urban developments flood control basins , dams , asphalting , concreting ,tennis courts , housing developments, non native landscaping . The Rip rap rock protection that Broad Beach Residents installed is actually deflecting longshore sand currents and preventing sand from resettling when Backwash bounces off the rocks and back out to sea . Perpendicular groins or jetties would actually do a better job at retaining sand replenishment as it has done in Santa Monica but there are consequences with that solution also .
If sea levels do rise dramatically expect beach front real estate values to go down the drain .

Rick Wallace

whole premise is that the sea is rising - IT IS NOT. Zero, zero proof of that. The whole global warming scare (ooops, "climate change") is such leftist propaganda and so is this article.

Tom Bates


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