Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Study for the City of Los Angeles

University of Southern California for the City of Los Angeles

Over the next century, sea level rise in the Los Angeles (L.A.) region is expected to match global projections with an increase of 0.1 – 0.6 m (5 – 24 inches) from 2000 to 2050 and 0.4 – 1.7 m (17 – 66 inches) from 2000 to 2100. Tides, wave-driven runup and storm surge sometimes cause coastal flooding in Southern California, especially when big wave storms occur at or near peak high tides. Sea level rise will potentially exacerbate the impacts from these events.

The City of L.A. owns and maintains coastal infrastructure that includes two power plants, two wastewater treatment plants, and the Port of L.A., one of the busiest in the world. All of these are situated about ten feet above sea level. A major component of L.A.’s economy is dependent upon beach tourism. In 2012, the Los Angeles region attracted over 41 million tourists, who accounted for more than $16.5 billion in expenditures.

The City of L.A., along with a team of science and outreach experts, developed a science-based and stakeholder-supported adaptation planning process to begin planning for the impacts of climate change. The Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Study for the City of Los Angeles was developed to begin to prepare for accelerated sea level rise and associated storm impacts. The expert team conducted an assessment of the potential physical, social and economic impacts of sea level rise on the City’s resources and population, as well as the possible impacts to coastal and shoreline assets.


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