Coastal flood projections and socioeconomic impacts due to sea level rise and storms for the State’s North Coastline

Coastal communities need to consider coastal change and storm impacts when identifying exposure and vulnerability to sea level rise (SLR). The United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS) accounts for the full range of plausible SLR scenarios and storms for the 21st Century, plus long-term changes to beaches and bluffs. The CoSMoS model was developed along California’s coastline but doesn’t include north of San Francisco. USC Sea Grant funded a study to apply the CoSMoS modeling system to assess coastal climate change vulnerability for the final stretch of northern California. The project will develop and integrate modeling products into the Our Coast Our Future (OCOF) web tool for data dissemination and access to regional stakeholders to support climate adaptation and coastal resilience planning and management.

Key Results:

  • USGS published the study’s cliff retreat data for Northern California in 
  • The project is almost finished with remaining datasets and models for Del Norte County, parts of Mendocino County, Humboldt Bay, and parts of the Lost Coast


Project Impacts & Application:

  • Eight stakeholder organizations are already using the data, including the California Department of Transportation as part of the 2023 update to the State Highway System Management Plan


Principal Investigators:

  • Patrick Barnard, Ph.D., United States Geological Survey 
  • Michael Fitzgibbon, Point Blue Conservation Science
  • Maya Hayden, Our Coast Our Future 



California Ocean Protection Council, 2018-2021


Additional Info:


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