Scientists study effects of climate change on Pacific coastline

Four researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego have earned state grants to study how climate change is shifting conditions on the Pacific Coast.

Scientists study effects of climate change on Pacific coastline

They were awarded 1 million U.S. dollars from the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) to study topics ranging from saltwater bass populations to coastal cliff erosion, according to a release of the institution.

They will create maps, models and other data sources that will help chart the changes to California’s coastline, and guide strategies to deal with them.

The grants of 250,000 U.S. dollars to each scientist are part of a larger project to fund research on topics such as sea-level rise and coastal resilience, marine pollution, and renewable energy. The four scientists will lead their teams to focus on respective projects.

Jennifer Smith, an associate professor of marine biology, is building 3D images of rocky intertidal zones to study how sea-level rise will affect the wealth of marine life in tide pools. Brice Semmens, an associate professor of marine biology, will develop a unique time series of bass species abundance dating back to the late 1940s.

These new data will provide valuable insights regarding the oceanographic drivers to these species, and will support effective fisheries management. Scientist Adam Young’s team will provide the first statewide high-resolution assessment of California coastal cliff erosion and retreat.

The results will be used to detect erosion hotspots, map a coastal cliff stability and hazard index, and identify areas prone to future coastal erosion. Marine biology professor Ronald Burton will use DNA metabarcoding approach, a DNA-based method of species identification, to monitor fish spawning and population connectivity in Coastal Southern and Central California.

OPC was created in 2004 as part of the California Ocean Protection Act, with an aim to help protect, conserve and maintain healthy coastal and ocean ecosystems and the economies they support.

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