Climatic Change

, Volume 109, Supplement 1, pp 277–298 | Cite as

Estimating the potential economic impacts of climate change on Southern California beaches

  • Linwood PendletonEmail author
  • Philip King
  • Craig Mohn
  • D. G. Webster
  • Ryan Vaughn
  • Peter N. Adams


Climate change could substantially alter the width of beaches in Southern California. Climate-driven sea level rise will have at least two important impacts on beaches: (1) higher sea level will cause all beaches to become more narrow, all things being held constant, and (2) sea level rise may affect patterns of beach erosion and accretion when severe storms combine with higher high tides. To understand the potential economic impacts of these two outcomes, this study examined the physical and economic effects of permanent beach loss caused by inundation due to sea level rise of one meter and of erosion and accretion caused by a single, extremely stormy year (using a model of beach change based on the wave climate conditions of the El Niño year of 1982/1983.) We use a random utility model of beach attendance in Southern California that estimates the impacts of changes on beach width for different types of beach user visiting public beaches in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. The model allows beachgoers to have different preferences for beach width change depending on beach size. We find that the effect of climate-driven beach change differs for users that participate in bike path activities, sand-based activities, and water-based activities. We simulate the effects of climate-related beach loss on attendance patterns at 51 public beaches, beach-related expenditures at those beaches, and the non-market (consumer surplus) value of beach going to those beaches. We estimate that increasing sea level will cause an overall reduction of economic value in beach going, with some beaches experiencing increasing attendance and beach-related earnings while attendance and earnings at other beaches would be lower. We also estimate that the potential annual economic impacts from a single stormy year may be as large as those caused by permanent inundation that would result from a rise in sea level of one meter. The economic impacts of both permanent inundation and storm-related erosion are distributed unevenly across the region. To put the economic impacts of these changes in beach width in perspective, the paper provides simple estimates of the cost of mitigating beach loss by nourishing beaches with sand.


Beach Consumer Surplus Orange County Beach Nourishment Beach Width 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank Guido Franco and Susi Moser for their feedback, the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program for its financial support, and Kim Sterrett of the California Department of Boating and Waterways, which provided initial funding to collect and analyze the beach width data used in the modified Southern California Beach Valuation model. Help with beach width data was provided by Dr. Anthony Orme, James Zoulas, Carla Chenualt Grady, and Hongkyo Koo. Richard MacKenzie helped us with beach slope data.


  1. Adams PN, Inman DL (2009) Climate change and potential hotspots of coastal erosion along the Southern California Coast, Report to the California Energy Commission, Publication Number CEC-500-2009-022-DGoogle Scholar
  2. Adams PN, Inman DL, Graham NE (2008) Southern California deep-water wave climate: characterization and application to coastal processes. J Coast Res 24(4):1022–1035CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adams PN, Inman DL, Lovering JL (2011) Effects of climate change and wave direction on hotspots of coastal erosion in Southern California. Climatic ChangeGoogle Scholar
  4. Allan JC, Komar PD (2006) Climate controls on us west coast erosion processes. J Coast Res 22(3):511–529CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bin O, Dumas C, Poulter B, Whitehead J (2007) Measuring the impacts of climate change on North Carolina coastal resources. National Commission on Energy Policy, 91 ppGoogle Scholar
  6. Bird ECF (1985) Coastline changes: a global review. Wiley, Chichester, 219 ppGoogle Scholar
  7. Brown AC, McLachlan A (2002) Sandy shore ecosystems and the threats facing them: some predictions for the year 2025. Environ Conserv 29(1):62–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. California Coastal Commission (2001) Overview of sea level rise and some implication for coastal California. California Coastal Commission, San Francisco, p 58Google Scholar
  9. Cayan D, Luers AL, Hanemann M, Franco G, Croes B (2005) Scenarios of climate change in California: an overview. White Paper, California Climate Change CenterGoogle Scholar
  10. Cayan D, Bromirski P, Hayhoe K, Tyree M, Dettinger M, Flick R (2006) Projecting future sea level. White Paper, California Climate Change CenterGoogle Scholar
  11. Cayan D, Tyree M, Dettinger M, Hidalgo H, Das T, Maurer E (2008) Climate change scenarios and sea level rise estimates for California 2008 climate change scenarios assessmentGoogle Scholar
  12. Cayan D, Tyree M, Dettinger M, Hidalgo H, Das T, Maurer E, Bromirski P, Graham N, Flick R (2009) Climate change scenarios and sea level rise estimates for the California 2008 climate change scenarios assessment. Draft PIER-EA Discussion Paper, Sacramento, California: California Energy CommissionGoogle Scholar
  13. Changnon SA (2000) Impacts of El Niño weather. In El Niño 1997–1998: the climate event of the century. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 136–171Google Scholar
  14. Eurosion (2004) Living with Coastal Erosion in Europe: Sediment and Space for Sustainability. Part-1 Major Findings and Policy Recommendations of the EUROSION Project. Guidelines for implementing local information systems dedicated to coastal erosion management. Service contract B4-3301/2001/329175/MAR/B3 “Coastal erosion—evaluation of the need for action.” Directorate General Environment, European Commission, 54 ppGoogle Scholar
  15. Flick RE (1998) Comparison of California tides, storm surges, and mean sea level during the El Niño winters of 1982–1983 and 1997–1998. Shore Beach 66(3):7–11Google Scholar
  16. Flick RE, Bromirski PD (2008) (Draft). Sea level and coastal change. Draft PIER-EA Discussion Paper. Sacramento, California: California Energy CommissionGoogle Scholar
  17. Hanemann M, Pendleton L, Mohn C, Hilger J, Kurisawa K, Layton D, Vasquez F (2004) Using revealed preference models to estimate the affect of coastal water quality on beach choice in Southern California. Prepared for the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, Minerals Management Service (Department of the Interior), The California State Water Resources Control Board, and The California Department of Fish and GameGoogle Scholar
  18. Hanemann M, Pendleton L, Mohn C (2005) Welfare estimates for five scenarios of water quality change in Southern California. National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationGoogle Scholar
  19. Hapke CJ, Reid D, Richmond BM, Ruggiero P, List J (2006) National assessment of shoreline change part 3: Historical shoreline change and associated coastal land loss along sandy shorelines of the California coast. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2006–1219, 72 ppGoogle Scholar
  20. Heberger M, Cooley H, Herrera P, Gleick P, Moore E (2009)The impacts of sea level rise on the California coast. California Energy Commission paper CEC-500-2009-024-FGoogle Scholar
  21. Inman DL, Jenkins SA (1998) Changing wave climate and littoral drift along the California coast. Proc Conf Calif World Ocean 1:538–549Google Scholar
  22. King P (1999) The fiscal impact of beaches in California. Public Research Institute, San Francisco University. Report Commissioned by California Department of Boating and WaterwaysGoogle Scholar
  23. King P, Symes D (2003) Potential loss in gross national product and gross state product from a failure to maintain California’s beaches. Report to the California Department of Boating and WaterwaysGoogle Scholar
  24. Leatherman SP (2001) Social and economic costs of sea-level rise. In: Douglas BC, Kearney MS, Leatherman SP (eds) Sea-level rise, history and consequences. Academic, New York, pp 181–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lew D (2005) Accounting for stochastic shadow values of time in discrete-choice recreation demand models. J Environ Econ Manag 50:341–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lew DK, Larson DM (2006) Valuing beach recreation and amenities in San Diego county. Sea Technol (August):39–45Google Scholar
  27. Los Angeles County Dept of Beaches and Harbors (2007) Los Angeles county beach renourishment project: data review and nourishment need assessment. Prepared by HPA IncGoogle Scholar
  28. Nakicenovic N, Stewart R (eds) (2000) Special report on emmissions scenarios. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  29. Neumann JE, Hudgens DE (2006) Coastal impacts. In: Smith JB, Mendelsohn R (eds) The impact of climate change on regional systems: a comprehensive analysis of California. Edward Elgar, NorthamptonGoogle Scholar
  30. NRC (1990) Managing coastal erosion. National Research Council. National Academy Press, Washington, 204 ppGoogle Scholar
  31. Pendleton L, Kildow J (2006) The non-market value of beach recreation in California. Shore Beach 74(2):34–37Google Scholar
  32. Pendleton L, Mohn C, Vaughn RK, King P, Zoulas JG (2011) Size matters: the economic value of beach erosion and nourishment in Southern California. Contemporary Economic PolicyGoogle Scholar
  33. Rahmstorf S (2007) A semi-empirical approach to projecting future sea-level rise. Science 315(5810):368–370Google Scholar
  34. Sanstad AH (2008) (draft) Economics of mitigation and adaptation. Draft PIER-EA Discussion Paper, Sacramento, California: California Energy CommissionGoogle Scholar
  35. Seymour RJ, Strange RR III, Cayan DR, Nathan RA (1984) Influence of El Niños on California’s wave climate. In: Edge BL (ed) Nineteenth coastal engineering conference: proceedings of the international conference. ASCE, New York, pp 577–592Google Scholar
  36. Seymour R, Guza RT, O’Reilly W, Elgar S (2005) Rapid erosion of a small southern California beach fill. Coast Eng 52:151–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Train KE (1998) Recreation demand models with taste differences over people. Land Econ 74(2):230–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. West JJ, Small MJ, Dowlatabadi H (2001) Storms, investor decisions, and the economic impacts of sea level rise. Clim Chang 48(2–3):317–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linwood Pendleton
    • 1
    Email author
  • Philip King
    • 2
  • Craig Mohn
    • 3
  • D. G. Webster
    • 4
  • Ryan Vaughn
    • 5
  • Peter N. Adams
    • 6
  1. 1.The Nicholas Institute at Duke UniversityDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsSan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.Cascade EconometricsSammamishUSA
  4. 4.Environmental Studies ProgramDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA
  5. 5.Ziman CenterUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  6. 6.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations