Media Advisory: Mapping Beach Changes Caused by Recent Storms

Release Date: January 12, 2017

On January 13, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey will be working on the beach in Santa Cruz at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River. Using a sonar-equipped boat and personal watercraft, they will be surveying the beach and the nearby ocean bottom to compile a three-dimensional map of how the beach changed during storms that struck this week.

This field work complements annual surveys over a larger area, from Santa Cruz to Moss Landing, that the USGS began in October 2014 to document the volume of sand moving along the coast. Conducting surveys over many years will ultimately provide a detailed picture of how our coastline reacts to changes in waves and sand input. The results can be incorporated into future scenarios of sea-level rise and climate change, contributing directly to Monterey Bay communities working on how to protect their coastlines.

Targeted surveys of vulnerable and dynamic coastal zones such as the mouth of the San Lorenzo River and the Capitola area after large winter storms will enable scientists to know what happens and how the beaches change, and will aid the understanding of how big storm events, such as those occurring during El Niño years, shape and erode the coast.

WhatMedia availability for interviews and photo opportunity: Scientific beach surveys by boat and personal watercraft.

Who: Project lead Patrick Barnard and other scientists from the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center.

When/WhereFriday, January 13, 9:30-10:30 a.m., at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River, on Santa Cruz Municipal Beach, California.

RSVP to Patrick Barnard, 415-328-2087

Sandy coastlines are a valuable resource that protect man-made structures from waves, serve as habitat for important species, and provide a variety of recreational opportunities. Big storms that wreak havoc in the area may also do some good by helping streams carry much-needed sand to local beaches

More information about this research is online.

The San Lorenzo River flows full and muddy past the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.(Credit: Andrew Stevens, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.)

A scientist in a personal water craft. View from the water toward the beach with an amusement park in the background.

USGS scientist Jackson Currie navigates a personal watercraft toward Santa Cruz Main Beach to record bathymetric data along a transect(Credit: Andrew Stevens, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.)

Scientist walking along beach wearing a bulky backpack with an antenna. Several pelicans sitting on the beach.

USGS scientist, Alex Snyder gathers topographic data by walking beach transects northwest of Moss Landing, California to help researchers understand how Monterey Bay will respond to changing environmental conditions. (Credit: Andrew Stevens, U.S. Geological, Survey. Public domain.)

Person riding an ATV in the beach surf zone with and antenna in the rear

USGS scientist using a sonar-equipped All-Terrane Vehical (ATV) to map beach profile after a storm in Northern California.(Credit: Patrick Barnard, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.)

Man in orange safety suit and helmet, and thumb up, standing while riding a personal watercraft

USGS scientist Tim Elfers navigates a personal watercraft toward Cowell Beach to record bathymetric data along a transect.(Credit: Andrew Stevens, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.)