Climate Change: Sea-level rise and the impacts to San Diego

Posted at 8:04 AM, Sep 17, 2019
and last updated 2021-04-26 14:56:06-04

(SAN DIEGO, KGTV) -- Ahead of next week's United Nations Climate Summit, 10News is taking a deeper look at the effects of climate change.

Since 1900, global sea level has risen 8 inches, dramatically increasing the odds of coastal flooding and damaging floods from storm surge. According to Climate Central, nearly 5 million people live less than 4 feet above high tide across the United States, and scientists expect roughly another 2 to 7 more feet of sea level rise this century.

Imperial Beach is one of the most vulnerable in California to sea-level rise as it experiences flooding during periods of extreme high tides and winter swell. 10News looked into a program designed to give people ample warning, called The Resilient Futures program. The goal is to create a flood alert system through a network of instruments to measure local wave and water levels monitored by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography giving scientists and emergency managers a 3 to 4 day head-start to help determine where extreme tides may occur.

"It is something people are concerned about, and they want to know how often is this likely to occur. As sea levels continue to rise, what’s the change and risk as time goes on.” says Mark Merrifield, the Director of the Coastal Data Information Program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He goes on to say, “just like it helps to have a weather forecast if there’s going to be an extreme rain event or wind event coming up. More and more there’s going to be the value of an ocean flooding event.'

A bouy is already two miles off the coast of Imperial Beach transmitting data back to scientists and they hope to one day expand the program to other beaches.