Project Description: Extreme Event Beach Change


The CSUMB Seafloor Mapping Lab was originally responsible for monitoring beach profile change and high water mark positions pre- and post-storm events during the 2014/2015 winter season along 17 km of the southern Monterey Bay shoreline (Monterey to the Salinas River mouth). When the predicted El Niño winter did not materialize, the project period was extended by the sponsor at the request of CSUMB to include the 2015/2016 storm season which was predicted to be a more severe El Niño episode. CSUMB students and staff used SFML’s existing mobile terrestrial LIDAR system and GPS to create continuous high resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) of the entire beach and dune face of the southern Monterey Bay shoreline. This technique has been perfected and used by the SFML to quantify shoreline change for the Monterey Bay during previous pre-/post- El Niño winters (Quan et al. 2012). The time series results from those prior studies were employed along with other existing airborne LIDAR data as baseline for the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 surveys. This laser-based approach was to be augmented using CSUMB’s newly acquired unmanned eBee aerial mapping vehicle equipped with high resolution photogrammetry system capable of achieving 3cm DEMs. However, subsequent drone-related policy actions, taken by both the FAA and CSU Chancellor’s Office, has kept all CSUMB drones grounded until further notice. As a result, all data collection apart from the proof of concept drone work pictured above was completed using GPS and LIDAR.

Student Involvement

In addition to the PSM graduate student working on this project for their required internship, the undergraduate students in the fall 2014 and spring 2015 ENVS332 GIS/GPS classes, and grad students in the spring 2016 ENVS532 Advanced GIS class have also participated in the shoreline mapping and analysis for this project. Three of these students were also invited by the sponsor and larger community to participate in two regional sea level rise planning and information meetings as described under Broader Significance below.

Broader Significance

This project is linked with similar efforts being conducted by the USGS aimed at modeling and predicting the spatial distribution and rates of coastal erosion patterns under the expected climate change and sea level rise scenarios for California. The PSM Graduate Internship student (Evan Dailey) who took the lead on this project was asked by the sponsor to present his results to federal, state and local agencies at the 2016 Annual Adapt Monterey Bay Sea Level Rise Summit in April. Evan has now been ask by the conveners of that summit to present the work at the larger regional public forum on sea level rise planning being organized for summer 2016. In addition, one of the grad students in the ENVS532 class who worked on the project and participated in the annual summit has been asked by the sponsors to help organize the upcoming summer forum.


Dr. Rikk Kvitek

Financial Support

FEMA, California Coastal Conservancy

Field Support

R/V Kelpfly, SFML unmanned aircraft