Category Archives: Erosion

Fish return to undammed Elwha River

Elwha Dam removal, 2011. The largest dam-removal project in U.S. history—the Elwha River Restoration Project—commenced during the second week of September 2011, when National Park Service contractors began to dismantle two dams on the Elwha River in Washington State. The 32-m-tall Elwha Dam and the 64-m-tall Glines Canyon Dam, completed in 1913 and 1927, respectively, have been blocking the natural supply of sediment to the lower river and coast and severely limiting salmon and steelhead spawning for nearly a century.Captions: Jonathan A. Warrick / USGS. Photograph: © SAF


A project to remove two hydroelectric dams from the Elwha River in Washington state is bringing benefits for local wildlife. In June, only months after the removal of the first dam was completed, salmon and steelhead spawned in two tributaries that had been inaccessible for more than 100 years.

But the fish are not home free yet. Massive amounts of sediment that had accumulated behind the dam have now been released, and could clog the gills of young and adult alike, killing them. The sediment will muddy the waters for at least three years before spreading out and rebuilding downstream river beds and coastal beaches; until then, the fish must navigate treacherous waters to breed…

Read Full Article, Nature

Sediment Starts to Really Hit The Elwha
Long expected, the heavy loads of sediment created by demolition of Glines Canyon Dam and Elwha Dam are starting to hit the Elwha river.

On The Elwha, A New Life When The Dam Breaks
Nobody figured the largest dam removal project ever attempted in the U.S. was going to be easy, or fast.The nation’s largest and most ambitious dam removal will begin this month, when workers start demolishing two antique dams on Washington state’s Elwha River…

Sediment trapped, Elwha river. Photograph: © SAF

Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia

Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia. NASA image by Jesse Allen, Robert Simmon, and Michael Taylor, using data from the USGS Global Visualization Viewer.

By Tassia Owen / NASA,

Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of Borneo, was once a lush tropical landscape full of some of the most sought-after timber in the world. In recent years, a combination of logging and agriculture has contributed to a rapidly changing landscape.

Forests are gradually being cleared and replaced by palm oil plantations, a response to the ever-increasing global demand for biofuels.

As palm oil generates ever more revenue, more land is cleared. Whether for logging—which has moved farther from the coast and higher up the slopes of the mountains—or for agricultural purposes, the forests of Kalimantan are being cleared at an increasing rate.

The image above shows a southern section of Kalimantan as it appeared on July 16, 2000. The natural-color view was acquired by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) on the Landsat 7 satellite. Light green areas with gridlines of light brown show portions of rainforest that were cleared for palm oil plantations and roads. Dark greens show the remaining rainforest.

When trees are logged, erosion can become a problem.

The tropical climate of Southeast Asia means Kalimantan endures seasonal fluxes of monsoon rains and dry seasons. During the dry seasons, ground that once was covered by a canopy of trees is exposed to the sun. The soil dries until dusty sediments sit on top, untethered to the ground. When the dry season ends and the monsoon rains pour down on the land, the sediment gets carried down from the mountains to the Java Sea. In this image, rivers appear to be red, a result of the sediment and soil. Once the sediment spills into the sea, it traces the movement of the currents in waves and swirls.

That flow of sediment is bad news for the palm oil plantations. Many of the nutrients necessary to grow healthy crops are being washed into the sea, leaving behind soil that is less than ideal for sustaining palm oil crops.

Original Article, NASA / Earth Observatory

Liberia’s Deforestation

Papua New Guinea: Landslide raises questions about $15.7 billion Exxon plan

Liberia’s Hasty Forest Sell-Off Risks More Conflict

Photo source: ©© Naguilum


More than half of Liberia’s forests have been granted to logging firms, bypassing environmental laws and with few benefits to the people.

More than 40% of the Upper Guinea rainforest is in Liberia. Rich, dense forest packed with rare and endangered species sprawls for hundreds of miles over the small coastal country. Sapo National Park, one of three protected areas in Liberia, contains more than 40 endangered species including the pygmy hippo, forest elephant, golden cat and western chimpanzee.

After 14 years of civil war, during which the country was stripped of roads, electricity, hospitals and schools, the revenue from logging concessions is crucial for rebuilding the country…

Read Full Article, Guardian UK

Haiti’s Unnatural Floods

A Giant Brought To Its Knees

Papua New Guinea’s Deforestation

Land Grabs
Over the past few years, companies and foreign governments have been leasing large areas of land for farming and exploitation, in some of Africa’s poorest countries, such as Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and Mozambique, Ghana, Tanzania, Liberia have all signed major land deals with foreign investors.“Land grabs” are now one of the biggest issues in Africa and all evidence points to a phenomenon of unprecedented scale.

Twenty Beaches Affected by Extreme Coastal Erosion, Java

Photograph: © SAF


Lack of mangrove plantations at the southern coast of Malang district, East Java, has caused severe abrasion of shorelines along at least 20 beaches in the region, according to officials…

Read Full Article, Antara News

Mangrove: The Root Of The Matter

The Green Belt Report
The Greenbelt Reports (GBR) is a multi-media, Asian regional educational project to document the conservation challenges involving mangroves, coral reefs and sand reefs, collectively called ‘greenbelts’ in recognition of their natural protective role against wave action and anticipated climate change impact.

Indian Sadhus Protest Dam Projects on Holy Ganges

ganges river banks
Photo source: ©© Shreyans Bhansali


Hundreds of saffron-clad Indian “sadhus,” or holy men, protested in New Delhi Monday against plans to construct more than 50 dams on the River Ganges, whose waters are sacred to millions of Hindus.

The sadhus, and environmentalists, say the dam projects, which are linked to hydropower creation on the Ganges and its myriad tributaries, will throttle the river at its source and threaten the natural ecosystem…

Read Full Article, AFP

Two Diyas, trapped, Ganges River. Photo source: ©© Shreyans Bhansali

Vast coastal erosion threatens Bali shorelines

Candidasa, eastern coast, Bali. The main attraction of Candi Dasa is a dazzling landscape of the beach, yet blighted by groins protruding into the water, intended to slowdown the erosion caused by coral blasting for years…
In the 1970s and 1980s, the area received a large amount of investment in tourism and a construction boom. To fuel the construction of beach bungalows, new homes and restaurants, the offshore reef was mined for lime to make cement and other construction materials. This removed the coastal barrier that had protected the beach which was undermined and washed away. Local hotel owners constructed a series of t-shaped groins jutting out into the water in (failing) attempt to preserve the beach… Captions: Wikipedia. Photo source: ©© Jessy Eykendorp


Bali Regional administrations face the gigantic task of tackling the continuing erosion that threatens the island’s already damaged shorelines and coastal areas…

Read Full Article, Indo Surf Life

Shoot the Messenger: Carolina’s Costly Mistake on Sea Level Rise

Beach Erosion at the Outer Banks of North Carolina . Photo source: ©© Soil Science

By Dr. Robert S. Young, director, Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines / Western Carolina University

The North Carolina Senate has approved legislation that would prohibit the state from considering projected sea level increases in its coastal management strategy. But a scientist involved in the debate argues that ignoring these projections will wind up costing North Carolina — and the rest of the U.S. — far more.

The state Senate in North Carolina voted overwhelmingly last week to pass a bill on sea level rise that has been widely reported in the national media. This bill prevents all state and local agencies from developing regulations or planning documents that consider the possibility of a significant increase in the rate of sea level rise in the future. In other words, when looking for guidance on how to protect the coastal economy and environment over the next century, the state’s planners may only look backward to historical data, not forward to expected changes in the Earth’s climate dynamics,

This bill has been widely ridiculed in many news outlets and science blogs, culminating with a biting satire of the proposal by Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report. Personally, the whole thing just makes me sad.

The commission decided to ignore our report and recommended doing nothing about sea level rise.

I serve on the science panel that advises the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission (CRC). Two years ago, the CRC solicited a report from the panel that would summarize the state of the science regarding sea-
level rise and recommend the expected increase that planners should consider when looking down the road to 2100. Our report included a detailed review of the published literature. It was externally peer-reviewed by out-of-state scientists. It contained no alarmist rhetoric or nightmare scenarios. The final recommendation was for the state to plan for 39 inches of sea level rise. This number corresponds well with expert reports produced in other states.

The reaction to our report was rapid and effective. NC-20, a group purporting to represent North Carolina’s coastal counties, attacked both the integrity of the science panel members and the body of sea level rise literature that was reviewed.

Photo source: ©© Soil Science

The rebuttal consisted largely of oft-repeated arguments pulled from the climate skeptic blogosphere, along with an adamant assertion that predicting the future is impossible. To the great surprise of those of us on the state’s science panel, these tactics have worked.

Following tremendous political pressure from NC-20, the Coastal Resources Commission decided to ignore our report and recommended doing nothing about sea level rise at this point. One would think that victory would have halted the debate, but it then prompted a state Senate committee to approve the legislation that passed the full Senate last week. The bill now moves on to the North Carolina House of Representatives.

All relevant, major scientific organizations in the United States — including the National Academy of Sciences, the Geological Society of America, the American Geophysical Union, and others — have issued statements indicating that the rate of sea level rise during the next 100 years is going to be considerably higher than that of the last 100 years, which was roughly 8 inches.

Assertions that talk of sea level rise will ruin the coastal economy are absurd.

North Carolina became the first state to directly contradict that overwhelming, peer-reviewed scientific consensus and to tie the hands of localities that would like to plan pro-actively for these changes. Virginia followed suit last week, with lawmakers there voting to fund a study on the state’s coastline only if references to climate change and sea level rise were expunged.

I have received many emails and phone calls from other scientists over the last two weeks pledging their assistance and volunteering to “come help educate the senators” in North Carolina. Sadly, I don’t think it will help. Quite frankly, those fighting the need to plan for accelerated sea level rise in coastal North Carolina do not want to be “educated.”

Coastal Erosion at the Outer Banks. Coastal storms, improper site management, and poor land use decisions can lead to catastrophic beach erosion. Photo source: ©© Soil Science

They assert that talk of sea level rise will ruin the coastal economy, impact insurance rates, and deter coastal development.

This is absurd.

First of all, the insurance industry is well aware of the science behind global climate change and the prevailing projections of sea level rise. They have funded much research into the science, hazards, and risks associated with sea level rise, coastal erosion, and storms. Nothing in the science panel’s report comes as a surprise to the insurers.

Second, the real and immediate threat along the North Carolina coast remains property damage resulting from storms, which may increase in intensity this century as the world warms. Some areas of the U.S. have experienced multiple storm impacts, yet their coastal economies continue to thrive.

The best way to prepare for sea level rise is to do a better job preparing for major storm impacts.

Dauphin Island, Alabama has been nearly wiped off the map several times in the last 30 years. Each time the barrier island was rebuilt, and the economy there chugs along. One might question whether this is good policy. But it is hard to imagine that something as abstract as a 100-year projection for rising sea level is going to impact the coastal economy when the reality of storm impacts has not slowed coastal growth.

No one has proposed evacuating the coast. If you are building a single-family home, or a subdivision, you probably don’t need to do anything other than what’s required by federal flood insurance — account for major storms and elevate new construction on pilings. In many respects, the best way to prepare for sea level rise over the next two to three decades is simply to do a better job of preparing for major storm impacts.

Some existing homeowners in low-lying areas do need to be concerned about future sea level rise. So does government at all levels. If you are building major infrastructure, a large port facility, or planning storm water runoff for a city, it would be foolish not to take the potential for sea level rise into consideration. Many governments, from the local to the federal level, are already doing so.

Why should anyone else care about this issue? Because poor coastal planning costs us all. Coastal communities receive a variety of federal and state subsidies that offset the risks associated with building in areas vulnerable to storms and sea level rise. These subsidies include post-storm disaster assistance, subsidized insurance, funds for beach nourishment and coastal protection projects, and many others.

Even in the near term, rising sea level is going to make maintaining coastal infrastructure more expensive. Over the long-term, these costs will only increase. Significant portions of the risk are born by all taxpayers. We once took this fiscal responsibility seriously in North Carolina.

Not any more.

Beach Erosion at the Outer Banks. Photo source: ©© Soil Science

Original Source, Yale 360

The Rising Sea, A Book by Orrin H. Pilkey and Robert S. Young

Illegal Sand Mining Erodes Riverbanks, Vietnam

Sand dredgers, along the river bank, Vietnam. Photo source: ©© Herve


Illegal sand mining in the Sai Gon River section between Hồ Chí Minh City and Tay Ninh Province to the north-west has caused severe erosion of the river’s banks, including farmland. The section has been illegally mined for so long that more than 76km of the river’s banks in Cu Chi have been seriously eroded…

Read Full Article, Viet Nam news

Illegal Dredging Causes Major Problems, Vietnam