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Monterey Bay Studies

Monterey Bay Studies


Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Project, 1999

Changes in Selected Monterey Bay Beaches between the 1982-83 El Niño and 1995

by John R. Dingler and Thomas E. Reiss


A beach profiling program in Monterey Bay began in February 1983, during the height of severe El Niño generated storms. Initially, nine beaches were surveyed, and later four beaches were added to fill gaps in the coverage. The 13 beaches extend from New Brighton State Beach in the north to Monterey State Beach, adjacent to the east Monterey breakwater, in the south. Surveys were conducted approximately monthly in 1983 and biannually through 1995. The beaches that were first surveyed during the severe storms spawned by the 1982-3 El Niño were extremely eroded. All of those beaches have rebuilt, but whether they returned to their pre-El Niño positions is unknown because there are no pre-storm surveys for comparison. Since the 1982-3 storms, lower energy conditions have prevailed, and a series of closely spaced storms has not occurred. This climate allowed the beaches initially to build seaward and, subsequent to 1985, all the beaches have maintained a relatively constant average location while undergoing fluctuations in response to changes in wave climate. The beaches could well maintain those average locations until the next episode of storms with the intensity of the 1982-83 storms.

This abstract is from Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Symposium, Sanctuary Currents '96, Building Community Connections in Science, Education and Conservation, Poster Session, 1996.

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