This winter’s El Niño may have been a dud rain-wise. Southern California saw less than half the precipitation it normally gets despite predictions of a conveyor belt of storms pummeling the region. Still, the phenomenon did bring warmer than average ocean temperatures and some extremely high tides. And that was a big silver lining for scientists hoping to learn more about how climate change is expected to affect coastal areas in the future. "It’s incredibly useful for thinking about our future" said Sarah Giddings, a researcher with Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. For much of the winter, water along the coastline was about 20 centimeters higher than average, leading to erosion and even flooding, Giddings explained. Climate change is expected to create similar conditions, as green house gases heat up the planet and ice caps melt, pushing sea levels higher.