Flooding on Seacoast Drive during king tide
Flooding at the south end of Seacoast Drive in Imperial Beach during a king tide in 2015. Photo by Chris Helmer / City of Imperial Beach

In what could be a model for the California coast, Scripps Institution of Oceanography will set up a network of instruments in Imperial Beach to monitor sea level rise and predict coastal flooding.

The project, announced Wednesday, is being funded by a $250,000 donation from the David C. Copley Foundation.

“It is an honor for the City of Imperial Beach to partner with Scripps Institution of Oceanography to be the first city in California to install sea-level rise monitoring technology along our beautiful beach as part of our efforts to monitor and adapt to rising seas,” said Mayor Serge Dedina.

The network includes an offshore wave buoy to measure wave height, period and direction; a tide gauge at the end of the Imperial Beach Pier; and sensors located both under water and buried in the beach. Additional measurements will made to monitor flooding on shorelines adjacent to South San Diego Bay and the Tijuana River estuary.

Data from the network will help Scripps’ Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation improve predictive models of coastal flooding, especially where large waves and extreme tides occur simultaneously.

“Recognizing Imperial Beach is a community at high risk to the impacts from sea-level rise, the David C. Copley Foundation board of directors is pleased to collaborate in a partnership with Scripps and the City of Imperial Beach on this important program,” said Dean Dwyer, president and CEO of the foundation. “We see this as a model that other communities in San Diego and along our California coast could adapt in the future.”

Imperial Beach is particularly susceptible to flooding as it is bound on three sides by bodies of water: San Diego Bay and the Otay River to the north, Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Tijuana River and estuary to the south.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.