USGS scientists studying effects of storms on Santa Cruz beaches

David Louie Image
ByDavid Louie KGO logo
Saturday, January 14, 2017
A beach is seen in Santa Cruz, Calif. in this undated image.
A beach is seen in Santa Cruz, Calif. in this undated image.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Scientists wasted no time trying to study how the recent storms have impacted the Santa Cruz coastline.

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Heavy rains in the mountains have swelled creeks and rivers, sending sand to the sea, which helps to address beach erosion.

Scientists from the USGS are helping to track the sand. They're taking advantage of a break in the weather to map how the storms changed the beach using boats and jet skis. "This was a particularly exceptional one that may have transported several years' worth of sand to the coast," USGS Coastal Geologist Patrick Barnard said.

It's an educated guess that between 1,000 and 3,000 dump truck loads of sand were being deposited by the storms. The amount and location will be mapped by a combination of echo sound, GPS, and lidar.

The scientists used similar data to create a 3D video of the same stretch of Santa Cruz beach and Boardwalk. "When we start to wonder about the impact of climate change and how rainfall may change in the future, how the severity of storms may increase or decrease in the future, that'll give us a really good indication of how much sand will be entering the system and how our beaches will behave and ultimately how we can sustain those beaches," Barnard said.

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