Local Experts Speak to Climate Change

On November 12, an all-day symposium was held on “Adapting to Climate Change in Del Mar: Protecting Your Property and Our Community.” The event, which was sponsored by the Coalition for Adapting to Climate Change in Del Mar, was designed to provide residents and the City with the most recent research and insight on likely climate change impacts and how to best prepare for them.


While Del Mar is fortunate to be surrounded by abundant natural beauty—with its ocean, beaches, two lagoons, wetlands, canyons, and rare Torrey Pine trees—these valuable resources will continue to be impacted by climate change and will require mitigation and adaptation.


Symposium speakers included Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists Ralph Keeling and Mark Merrifield, both of whom are experts on climate change. Keeling, who grew up in Del Mar, is the son of Dave Keeling, who pioneered measurement of carbon dioxide emissions and their accumulation in the atmosphere (now known as the Keeling Curve). Merrifield is the director of Scripps Oceanography’s Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation.


According to Merrifield, considerable research has been underway on Del Mar beaches to measure bluff erosion and sea level rise impacts. In addition to sea level rise, atmospheric rivers—which have become more frequent—also wreak havoc on sand and accelerate bluff erosion. Scripps is developing an early warning system for bluff collapse and sees Del Mar as a test ground for adaptation.


Other significant climate change impacts that Del Mar and its residents should prepare for include wildfires. Of the 20 largest fires in California’s history, eight have occurred in the past three years. Rick Halsey, director of the California Chapparal Institute, argued that fire embers, which can travel for several miles, are the reasons most homes burn in wildfires. Jordan Villagomez, Fire Marshall for Del Mar, agreed that while maintaining defensive space around a residence is important, ensuring that your house has ember- resistant vents is paramount.


Also discussed at the symposium was the need for Del Mar to mitigate and adapt to impacts such as lagoon flooding and endangered habitat, as well as the need for tree preservation, and sustainable gardening. The symposium, which was made possible by a grant from the Del Mar Foundation, was recorded by Del Mar TV. Residents will be able to watch the symposium in the near future at: http://delmarfoundation.org//