So far this winter, high tides and waves have raised sea level 8 to 12 inches at the project’s nine study sites, which range from Coal Oil Point and coastal cliffs in Isla Vista to Goleta Beach Park, Hendry’s Beach and Shoreline Park, according to Paul Alessio, a UCSB Ph.D student working on the project with earth science professor Edward Keller.
Those numbers correspond to projected sea level rise for the next 50 to 100 years, so researchers aim to use the data to map and better understand coastal retreat.
“It’s like we’re looking at 250 years of California sea level rise,” Keller said. “We’re looking into a crystal ball of what the future will be like.”
Sea level will return to normal position come April, but Alessio said he hopes residents will be aware and careful while walking near cliffs.
“It may seem like it’s safe because it’s sunny out,” he said. “It’s particularly dangerous during this winter after the sea cliffs have been weakened.”