Visualizing Climate Change

Visualizing Climate Change

Written by Lisa Folino

In October CEO Lisa Folino and CFO Rebecca Harlow Taylor had the privilege of attending a very unique program run by Sea Grant of USGS from The University of Southern California. This remarkable program is integrating Virtual Reality to demonstrate how Climate change and the rising oceans will affect our coastlines. The VR Viewers will be on the Santa Monica Pier from November 14 – December 31, 2016.

The Owl


The nickname of the project is “Owl.” The Owl/viewer is free standing and when looked into, reveals in VR how sea level rise and coastal storms will affect and change the Santa Monica shoreline.

What’s Inside the Owl
The general public can walk up and view inside the Owl to see an immersive virtual reality display showing panoramic views of Santa Monica Beach. The public can see how the beach and infrastructure will flood with sea level rise and big storms by the end of the century. The virtual reality display was created specifically for the Santa Monica Pier location – the public can look out from the pier and see the shoreline and sea level as it is today, and then look into the Owl to see how this exact stretch of beach will change with sea level rise.

Where is the Owl located?
Located on the north side of the Pier, this is the first Owl to be installed in Southern California. This program is led by the City of Santa Monica in collaboration with USC Sea Grant and U.S. Geological Survey. USC Sea Grant is providing science support, outreach, and some funding for the project.

Mission of the Owl
A unique way to engage the public to educate and display a view into our future in order to come up with solutions/options to protect the shoreline from Sea Level Rise. 

The sea level rise scenarios visualized in the Santa Monica Owl were created using state of the art scientific models developed by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).


Sea level rise in Southern California is expected to match global projections with an increase of 5-24 inches from 2000 to 2050 and 17-66 inches from 2000 to 2100.
Sea level rise, in combination with the impacts from coastal storms, will expedite many of the natural processes that already occur, such as erosion and beach loss.

Current beach management practices will not be able to keep pace with accelerating rates of sea level rise, so we will start to see more and more changes to our beaches. As the sea level increases, there will be a gradual landward movement of water up the beach and the beach will narrow. As cities begin to plan for these impacts, it is vital to engage the public so that local communities understand and support policies implemented to reduce the risks.

To Learn more please visit:

The new visualizations are also accessible online and via smartphone here

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