October 17 – San Diego Coastkeeper, SDSU release sea level rise maps for region’s coastline

Website demonstrates how coastal habitats may look with higher sea levels

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 6, 2011 – On Saturday, September 17, around 10,000 volunteers will visit 90 coastal and inland cleanup sites for a one-day attack on marine debris and inland pollution. This year, Coastal Cleanup Day coordinators I Love A Clean San Diego and San Diego Coastkeeper highlight on their website several green “in need” cleanup sites, where data from the annual event show a higher demand for volunteers. To reduce the event’s carbon footprint and individual waste, organizers also ask volunteers to select local sites in their own communities and to bring reusable buckets, bags, work gloves and water bottles.
“Trash travels from inland communities into storm drains which empty into our canyons, creek beds and eventually the ocean,” said Pauline Martinson, Executive Director for I Love A Clean San Diego. “That’s why it’s especially important for volunteers to lend a hand in their local neighborhood—our entire county needs a cleaning.”
To encourage participation in areas that need extra hands, San Diego’s Coastal Cleanup Day website, www.cleanupday.org features “in need” sites labeled in green in areas such as Clairemont, Normal Heights, City Heights, La Mesa, Tijuana River Valley and more. These sites were identified based on data from previous cleanups, indicating that some inland sites recover more debris as well as larger items such as tires, couches, and more.
“A recent statewide survey shows that this event significantly increases knowledge about the causes of marine debris—and that’s the first step in stopping the problem,” said Alicia Glassco, Education and Marine Debris Manager at Coastkeeper. “We see Coastal Cleanup Day as a hands-on educational event that connects residents to their neighborhood while removing harmful debris.”
I Love A Clean San Diego and San Diego Coastkeeper also ask volunteers to reduce their carbon footprint while participating in the event. Instead of traveling long distance to a site, volunteers should stay at their local cleanup locations and remember to bring their own reusable bag or bucket, work gloves and water bottle.
Last year in San Diego County, volunteer involvement rose to approximately 9,000 participants, with another 3,000 volunteers lending their support across the border in the U.S./Mexico-shared Tijuana Watershed. Volunteers removed close to 100 tons of debris from more than 80 cleanup sites along the coastline and in canyons, creek beds, lagoons, estuaries and open spaces.
This year, volunteers should register on the San Diego County event website at www.cleanupday.org. The website includes an interactive Google Map with all cleanup sites in the region, including a handful of green “in need” sites. Sites where registration is at capacity are denoted in red. Information for children, scouts, and groups are also available on the website.

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 17, 2011- San Diego Coastkeeper published today its new website resource demonstrating how the coastline may differ as sea levels rise with global climate change. The website can be found at http://localhost/sdcoastkeeper/learn/san-diegos-waters/sea-level-rise.html. The interactive tool displays possible habitat impacts in the year of 2100 at Tijuana River Estuary, San Diego Bay and Mission Bay for sea level rise of 0.4 meters, 1.5 meters and 2 meters.

To help the region prepare for the changes, Dr. Rick Gersberg from the Graduate School of Public Health at San Diego State University and San Diego Coastkeeper partnered to inform the public of the resource.

“Government officials, coastal planners and local residents need the best available data and information to better prepare our region for potential impacts,” said San Diego Coastkeeper Staff Scientist, Jen Kovecses. “These local data can help reduce some of the associated uncertainty that our decision makers and planners face.”

In making the maps, Dr. Gersberg’s lab gathered coastal data for the San Diego coast and integrated it into an Environmental Protection Agency model called Sea Level Affects Marshes Model (SLAMM). The outcome of that model consists of predicted scenarios showing how ten of San Diego’s coastal habitats might shift as sea levels change. Using different sea level rise scenarios (essentially low, moderate, high sea level rise), the model predicts that San Diego’s coastal habitats may look very different over the next 100 years.

“Our model shows that by 2100, San Diego’s coastline may lose 35 to 43 percent of its ocean beaches, 23 percent of its inland freshwater marshes, 42 percent of its tidal freshwater marshes and 51% of its brackish water marshes,” said Gersberg. “These potential changes and the consequences to habitat alteration are severe and something that we need to take into consideration today as we make planning decisions.”

Coastkeeper worked with Dr. Gersberg to disseminate the results to local government officials, business people, residents and other interested parties. Ultimately, this information formed part of the foundation for a sea level rise adaptation plan for San Diego Bay.

The generous support of the Environment Blasker Grant of the San Diego Foundation made this project possible. The final outcome of Coastkeeper’s partnership with Dr. Gersberg is the interactive map that displays the model results for a subset of coastal areas and key findings from the model analysis. This map will evolve over time as Dr. Gersberg’s lab develops and refines other model results. Consequently, Coastkeeper will update the web page with relevant information.

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Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects the region’s bays, beaches, watersheds and ocean for the people and wildlife that depend on them. We balance community outreach, education, and advocacy to promote stewardship of clean water and a healthy coastal ecosystem. For more information, visit San Diego Coastkeeper online at http://localhost/sdcoastkeeper.