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Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment

The City of Carlsbad has completed a report, The City of Carlsbad Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment, showing how a rising sea level could result in future flooding and erosion along its coastline and around lagoons. 

Download the report

The City of Carlsbad Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment identifies areas on the coast and around lagoons that are most susceptible to damage from an increase in the sea level. The report projects potential hazards over two timeframes – through 2050 and 2100. It analyzes the relative risks and rates how vulnerable different areas are. The report also describes possible “adaptation strategies,” which are ways to help prevent future coastal flooding and erosion.

Areas included in the report are:

  • Beaches, which stretch for six and a half miles between Batiquitos and Buena Vista lagoons.
  • Areas where the public accesses beaches and lagoons.
  • State parks and their amenities (Carlsbad State Beach, South Carlsbad State Beach and the state campground).
  • Individual parcels of private property in affected areas.
  • Critical infrastructure, such as power plants, electrical infrastructure, and, water and sewer lines.
  • Streets, bicycle and pedestrian paths, and trails.
  • Environmentally sensitive lands, such as the three lagoons and adjacent wetlands.

Based on accepted scientific models, the report evaluates potential effects of a rising sea level, including:

  • Beaches getting more narrow because of a higher sea level
  • Temporary flooding during severe storms and high tides
  • Increased erosion of coastal bluffs due to exposure to ocean waves
  • Potential flooding of city lagoons during significant rainstorms

The report notes that especially low-lying areas may be extremely vulnerable to coastal flooding, such as Carlsbad Boulevard in the vicinity of Encinas Creek, which sustained damage during winter storms in December 2015 and January 2016. El Niño-driven rains teamed with astronomical high tides to batter the bluff along the roadway’s southbound lanes, undermining the shoulder and requiring emergency repairs. According to the report, damage like this could become more common as the sea level rises.