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California coastline could rise as much as 30 cm over 20 years by G.W. Schulz July 02,2012   |  Source: California Watch

Experts believe sea levels on the California coastline could rise as much as 30 centimeters over the next 20 years. Doesn’t sound like much, but what could it mean for you?

Airports, stadiums and housing developments in the Bay Area were built just a few feet over the highest tides on landfill, which means San Francisco International Airport could flood within decades.

Some residents already have been forced to leave their homes in the town of Pacifica, south of San Francisco, due to the erosion of sediment from cliffs. Bluffs and cliffs are retreating in Santa Cruz and San Diego counties, too. Housing developments constructed on sand dunes are threatened and already have been damaged.

“Dunes … can be expected to retreat quickly under rising sea levels and larger waves,” concludes a recent report from the National Research Council that contains numerous findings for the West Coast.

“Cliff retreat is not reversible,” adds the report. “Although coastal armoring can buy time, today’s seawalls and revetments will eventually be overwhelmed by sea-level rise and increasing wave heights. Sand dunes and beaches, which consist primarily of unconsolidated sand, provide little resistance to severe wave attack, especially at times of elevated sea level.”

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