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Shrinking Beaches

Many of California’s beaches may shrink in the future because of rising seas and increased erosion from winter storms. Currently, many beaches are protected from erosion through manmade sand replenishment (or “nourishment”) programs, which bring in sand from outside sources to replace the diminishing supply of natural sand. In fact, many of the wide sandy beaches in southern California around Santa Monica, Venice, and Newport Beach were created and are maintained entirely by sand nourishment programs. As sea levels rise, increasing volumes of replacement sand will be needed to maintain current beach width and quality. California beach nourishment programs currently cost millions of dollars each year. As global warming continues, the costs of beach nourishment programs will rise, and in some regions beach replenishment may no longer be viable.

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Loss of Winter Recreation

Continued global warming will have widespread implications for winter tourism. Declines in Sierra Nevada snow pack would lead to later starting and earlier closing dates of the ski season. Toward the end of the century, if temperatures rise to the lower warming range, the ski season at lower and middle elevations could shorten by as much as a month. If temperatures reach the higher warming range and precipitation declines, there might be many years with insufficient snow for skiing and snowboarding. Decreases from 40 to almost 90 percent are likely in end-of-season snowpack under high emissions scenarios in major ski resorts.

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