Coastal Flooding & Solutions, Workshop Case Studies

Imperial Beach Flood Forecast System

Location: Southern California

Submitted By: Mark Merrifield - Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Project URLs:,

Project Description

Expected sea level rise will increase coastal flooding, but the ability to predict flooding events depends on the degree to which wave-driven runup can be specified. An observing system and modeling effort at Imperial Beach, CA, have been developed to determine how uncertainties propagate through the estimate of Total Water Level (TWL), what are the limiting factors for skillful predictions, and to what spatial resolution can flooding be predicted along the Imperial Beach shoreline. Effective mitigation and planning requires monitoring and understanding coastal change as it unfolds. Our goal with the IB project is to determine what subset of this information is needed to establish similar systems in other locations along the coast at substantially reduced cost and effort, while providing a baseline to contextualize future change. We are actively working, at IB and California State Parks and Beaches, to develop state-of-the-art observing systems and predictive tools needed to understand the coming risks, and to develop cost-effective, proactive adaptation strategies.

Key Successes

Imperial Beach city officials are able to use the flood warning system to plan for upcoming flood events


missing observations/experiments/validation data due to COVID-related restrictions

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