Earth & Planetary Sciences Faculty

Gary B Griggs
  • Title
    • Distinguished Professor of Earth Sciences
  • Division Physical & Biological Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Earth & Planetary Sciences Department
    • Institute of Marine Sciences
  • Affiliations Environmental Studies Department, Coastal Science & Policy Program
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Fax
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Earth & Marine Sciences, A-361
    • Earth & Marine Sciences A361
  • Mail Stop Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Climate Change, Earth Sciences, Geology, Hydrology, Marine Sciences, Ocean Studies, Oceanography, Water
  • Courses Oceanography, Coastal Geology, Coasts in Crisis, Earth Sciences Mentorship

Summary of Expertise

Coastal Processes and Hazards, Coastal Engineering, Impacts and Adaptation to Sea Level Rise

Research Interests

Gary Griggs' research is focused on the coastal zone and ranges from coastal evolution and development, through shoreline processes, coastal hazards and coastal engineering, and sea level rise. Recent research projects have focused on documenting and understanding coastal erosion processes including temporal and spatial variations in rates of retreat; evaluating the effectiveness of coastal protection structures and the impacts of coastal engineering projects (seawalls, jetties, breakwaters) on coastal processes and beaches; evaluating beach processes and quantifying littoral cell budgets and human impacts on these budgets; impacts of extreme events such as El Ninos) on coastlines; the impacts of sea level rise on California's beaches and coastline; and coastal policies to reduce the impacts of hazards and sea level rise.

Biography, Education and Training

B.A., Geological Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara (1965)
Ph.D., Oceanography, Oregon State University (1968)

Honors, Awards and Grants


1974-75: Fulbright Fellow- Institute of Oceanographic Research, Athens, Greece

1998: University of California, Santa Cruz, Division of Natural Sciences- Outstanding Faculty Award (teaching-research-service)

2001: Distinguished Alumnus Award- Geological Sciences Department, University of California Santa Barbara

2003: American Shore and Beach Preservation Association: Joe Johnson Coastal Research Award

2006: University of California Santa Cruz: Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award

2006: University of California: Santa Cruz Pioneer Faculty Award

2007: Ed Ricketts Award for Sustained Research in Marine Science- Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

2009: California Coastal Commission/Sunset Magazine California Coastal Hero award.

2010: Elected to California Academy of Sciences.

2012: Appointed to the California Ocean Sciences Trust

2016: Laura Hecox Naturalist of the Year Award, Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

2018: Global Oceans Hero - Seymour Marine Discovery Center, University of California Santa Cruz

2018: Lifetime Achievement Award - Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce



Selected Publications



Griggs, G.B., 2020. Coastal airports and rising sea levels. Journal of Coastal Research.


Griggs, G.B. 2018. Between Paradise and Peril: The Natural Disaster History of the Monterey Bay Region (book). Monterey Bay Press, 198pp.


Griggs, G. and Patsch, K. 2019. California’s coastal development: Sea-level rise and extreme events – where do we go from here? Shore and Beach 87:2: 15-28.


Griggs, G. and Patsch, K. 2019. The Protection/Hardening of California’s Coast- Times are Changing. Journal of Coastal Research: 35:5:1051-1061.


Griggs, G.B. 2019. Our Ocean Backyard- Collected Essays Volume II (book). Creative Space. 331p.


Griggs, G., Divar, L., and Reguero, B. 2019. Documenting a Century of Coastline Change along Central California and Associated Challenges from the Qualitative to the Quantitative. Water 2019, 11(12), 2648;


Griggs, G., Patsch, K., Lester, C., and Anderson, R. 2020. Groins, Sand Retention, and the Future of Southern California’s Beaches. Shore and Beach: 88(2): 14-36.  


Griggs, G.B. and Patsch, K. 2018. Natural changes and human impacts on the sand budgets and beach widths of the Zuma and Santa Monica Littoral Cells, Southern California, Shore and Beach 86(1): 1-14.


Griggs, G.B. & others. 2018.  California’s Ocean and Coast Summary Report: Advancing Climate Change Adaptation for California’s Coast and Ocean Communities. California’s 4th Climate Assessment.


Griggs, G.B. 2018. Between Paradise and Peril: The Natural Disaster History of the Monterey Bay Region (book). Monterey Bay Press, 198 pp.


Griggs, G.B., 2017. The Yorkshire coast of England: Resilient development along a rapidly eroding coastline, Shore and Beach 85(1): 1-11.


Griggs, G.B., 2017. Coasts in Crisis- A Global Challenge (book). University of California Press, 338p.


Steinhardt, Kim and Griggs, Gary, 2017. The Edge - The Pressured Past and Precarious Future of California’s Coast (book), Craven Street Books, 299p.


Griggs, G., Cayan, D., Tebaldi, C., Fricker, H.A., Arvai, J., DeConto, R., Kopp, R.E., and Whiteman, E.A. (California Ocean Science Protection Council Advisory Team Working Group) 2017. Rising Seas in California: An update on sea-level rise science. California Ocean Sciences Trust, 71p.


Griggs, G.B. and Kinsman, N., 2016. Beach widths, cliff slopes, and artificial nourishment along the California Coast, Shore and Beach 84(1): 1-12.


Griggs, G. B., 2015. Lost Neighborhoods of the California Coast, Journal of Coastal Research 30(1): 129-147.


Griggs, G.B. 2015. The California Coastal Records Project: A globally accessible record of coastal change, Shore and Beach 83(2): 1-14.


Griggs, G.B. and Ross, D.S., 2014. The California Coast from the Air- Images of a Changing Landscape(book). Mountain Press, Missoula, Mt. 176p.


Hapke, C.J. Adams, P.N., Allan, J. Ashton, A. Griggs, G.B., Hampton, M.A., Kelly, J., and Young, A. 2014. The rock coast of the USA. Chapter 9, In: Geological Society of London Memoir: Rocky Coast Geomorphology: A Global Synthesis, 40: 137-154.


Atwater, B.F., Carson, B., Griggs, G.B., Johnson, H.P., and Salmi, M.S. 2014. Rethinking turbidite paleoseismology along the Cascadia subduction zone. Geology: 42(9): 827-830.


Griggs, G.B. 2014. Our Ocean Backyard- Collected Essays (book). Creative Space. 542p.


Quan, S., R.G. Kvitek, D.P. Smith, and G.B. Griggs. 2013. Using vessel-based LIDAR to quantify coastal erosion during El Niño and inter-El Niño periods in Monterey Bay, CA. Journal of Coastal Research 29(3): 555-565.


Russell, N.L. and Griggs, G.B. 2013. California sea-level rise vulnerability and adaptation guidance document: A summary report. Shore and Beach 81(1): 1-7.


Caldwell, M. R., Hartge, E. H., Ewing, L. C., Griggs, G., Kelly, R. P., Moser, S. C., Newkirk, S. G., Smyth, R. A., & Woodson, C. B. 2013. Coastal Issues. In: Garfin, G., Jardine, A., Merideth, R., Black, M., & LeRoy, S. (Eds.), Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States: a Report Prepared for the National Climate Assessment. A report by the Southwest Climate Alliance. Washington, DC: Island Press: Chapter 9: 168-196.


Russell, N.L. and Griggs, G.B., 2013. City of Santa Barbara sea-level rise vulnerability assessment: A summary report. Shore and Beach 81(4): 38-51.


Andeson, J., Griggs, G., & Nichols, R.J. and Uhlenbrock, K. 2013. Adapting to Shifting Tides: Science and the Policy Implications of Coastal Change. EOS: 94(47): 435.


Russell, N.L. and Griggs, G.B. 2012. Adapting to Sea Level Rise- A Guide for California’s Coastal Communities. California Energy Commission-Public Interest Environmental Research Program and California Ocean Sciences Trust: 52p.


Atwater, B.F., and Griggs, G.B., 2012, Deep-sea turbidites as guides to

Holocene earthquake history at the Cascadia Subduction Zone; Alternative

views for a seismic-hazard workshop: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report

2012-1043, 58 p., available at


Griggs, G.B. and Russell, N.L., 2012. City of Santa Barbara: Sea-level rise vulnerability study. California Energy Commission Public Interest Energy Research Program, 87p.


National Research Council, 2012. Sea-Level Rise for the Coasts of California, Oregon and Washington: Past, Present and Future. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 274pp.


Griggs, G.B. (Co-Chair), N. Wijnoist, T. Agardy, B. Cicin-Sain, M. Davidson, M. D Dickey-Collas, R. Gagosian, E. Lee, T. MacDonald, S. O’Neill, H. Psaraftis, A. Ruiz and V. Schoenmakers. 2011. Oceans and Climate Change: In: Transatlantic Options for Improved Integrated Maritime Governance, Cooperation Across the Atlantic for Marine Governance Integration. Ecologic Institute. 18p.  

Griggs, G.B., 2011. 1965: The recovery of the first ocean floor evidence of great Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquakes. EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union v. 92(39): 325-326.


Orme, A.R., Griggs, G.B., Revell, D.L., Zoulas, J.G., Grandy, C.C., and Koo, J. 2011. Beach changes along the Southern California coast during the twentieth century: A comparison of natural and human forcing factors. Shore and Beach 79(4): 38-50.


Griggs, G.B. and Haddad, B., 2011. City of Santa Cruz climate change vulnerability study, City of Santa Cruz Redevelopment Agency, 73pp.


Griggs, G.B. 2010. Introduction to California’s Beaches and Coast. (book). University of California Press, 311p.


Kinsman, N. and Griggs, G.B., 2010. California Coastal Sand Retention Today: Attributes and Influence of Effective Structures. Shore and Beach 78(4): 64-74.


Griggs, G.B., 2010. The effects of armoring shorelines – The California experience, In: Puget Sound Shorelines and the Impacts of Armoring-Proceedings of a State of the Sciences Workshop, May 2009. U.S.G.S. Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5254, 77-84.


Teaching Interests

Coastal Geology, Oceanography