LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — One of the icons of California could look drastically different by the year 2100 without human intervention.

A new study predicts that 31 percent to 67 percent of Southern California beaches could completely erode back to coastal infrastructure or sea cliffs by the year 2100 with sea-level rises of 3.3 feet (1 meter) to 6.5 feet (2 meters).

“Beaches are perhaps the most iconic feature of California, and the potential for losing this identity is real,” the study’s author, Sean Vitousek said in a statement. “Beaches are natural resources, and it is likely that human management efforts must increase in order to preserve them.”

Installing large boulders as rip rap to armor the shore against furhter erosion at Goleta Beach at low tide. (credit: Daniel Hoover/U.S. Geological Survey)

Exposed bedrock on the beach, below UC Santa Barbara. (credit: Daniel Hoover/U.S. Geological Survey)

Beach loss and armoring at Goleta Beach at very low tide. (credit: Daniel Hoover/U.S. Geological Survey)

Bedrock exposed at low tide along the beach at Isla Vista. (credit: Alex Snyder/U.S. Geological Survey)

Exposed bedroock on the beach during low tide at Isla Vista. (credit: Alex Snyder/U.S. Geological Survey)

The study released Monday used a new computer model to predict shoreline effects caused by sea level rise and changes in storm patterns due to climate change. Although Southern California beaches are a complex mixture of dunes, bluffs, cliffs, estuaries, river mouths, and urban infrastructure, the model is applicable to virtually any coastal setting, according to the U.S. Geological Study.

The study has been accepted for publication by the American Geophysical Union’s Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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