Comparison of Actual vs. Predicted El Niño Induced Erosion Scarp Locations in northwest Oregon and southwest Washington

Authors: Richard Daniels*, Washington State Department of Transportation
Topics: Coastal and Marine, Hazards and Vulnerability, Climatology and Meteorology
Keywords: El Nino, Hazards, Erosion, Coastal, Oregon, Washington
Session Type: Illustrated Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The El Niño event of 2015-2016 was the strongest El Niño to occur in the last 33 years in the Pacific Northwest – second only to the 1983 and 1997 events. All three events were associated with elevated water levels along the northwest Oregon and southwest Washington coast resulting in increased erosion and scarping. In a study completed in 2016 we used sea surface temperature, observed hourly tide levels, and precipitation anomalies to develop a meteorological based model to identify coastal beaches at risk to increased erosion by these elevated tides. In this study LiDAR data, published by NOAA's Ocean Service, for July 2014 and April 2016 were used to identify beaches that actually experienced increased scarping during the El Niño event. These scarp locates were then correlated with the areas identified as being ‘at risk’ by the meteorological model. To accomplish this we developed three ArcGIS models to extract and compare scarps from the LiDAR data. In general, we found that the meteorological variables performed well in identifying, in near real-time, areas that were subject to increased erosion during the 2016 El Niño event.

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