Category Archives: News

Great Barrier Reef study shows how reef copes with rapid sea-level rise

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Great barrier of reef, Australia. Photo source: ©© Secruza

Excerpts;

A survey of coral reef cores on the Great Barrier Reef has revealed how it has responded to recent periods of rapid sea-level rise. The study, covering the past 9000 years, has revealed a system in delicate balance.

Read Full Article; Science Daily (12-03-2019)

Great Barrier Reef health outlook downgraded to “very poor” due to ocean warming; CBS News (08-30-2019)

Why the Great Barrier Reef is in danger; MNN (09-07-2018) (09-12-2018)

Video Captures the Violent Act of Coral Bleaching, LiveScience (08-17-2016)

Global warming is transforming the Great Barrier Reef; Science Daily (04-18-2018)
A new study shows that corals on the northern Great Barrier Reef experienced a catastrophic die-off following the extended marine heatwave of 2016…

Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching has started early, biologist says; Guardian UK (01-19-2018)
Warm water has already begun bleaching coral on the Great Barrier Reef, weeks ahead of the period with highest forecast risk. Satellite data suggest widespread bleaching is possible by March…

A Close-Up Look at the Catastrophic Bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef; Yale E360 (04-10-2017)
Scientists are reporting the second mass bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef in the last year. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, researcher Terry Hughes says these events have damaged two-thirds of the world’s largest coral reef and are directly caused by global warming…

Coral bleaching hits 93% of Great Barrier Reef, Video, Science Daily (04-21-2016)
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is suffering its worst coral bleaching in recorded history with 93 percent of the World Heritage site affected, scientists say as they reveal the phenomenon is also hitting the other side of the country…

Great Barrier Reef: the scale of bleaching has the most sober scientists worried, Guardian UK (04-16-2016)
I have dived hundreds of times, with different teams of scientists, along the reef. Yet the scale of this bleaching event has even the most sober and senior coral reef scientists worried. If the rhetoric from marine biologists is to be believed, then the Great Barrier Reef is now in the grip of a “bommie apocalypse”…

Great Barrier Reef’s Unprecedented Threat From Dredging, Dumping; Guardian UK (05-07-2014)
The impact of dredging and dumping sediment on the Great Barrier Reef has been far greater than the mining industry has claimed, with nearly 150m tonnes of new dredging set to take place in the reef’s waters, a study shows…

Bacterial communities ‘hitchhiking’ on marine plastic trash


“The unprecedented plastic waste tide plaguing our oceans and shores, can become as limited as our chosen relationship with plastics, which involves a dramatic behavioral change on our part…”
Captions and Photo: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Millions of tons of plastic trash are fouling the world’s ocean, most of it tiny pieces of microplastic less than a quarter-inch in size. Even the smallest marine animals can ingest these microplastics, potentially threatening their survival.

Marine microplastics aren’t floating solo, either — they quickly pick up a thin coating of bacteria and other microbes, a biofilm known as “The Plastisphere.”

Using an innovative microscopy method, scientists have revealed the structure of the microbial communities coating microplastic trash collected from a variety of ocean sites…

Read Full Article; Science Daily (12-02-2019)

New UN report finds marine debris harming more than 800 species, costing countries millions; United Nations (12-05-2016)
Marine debris is negatively affecting more than 800 animal species and causing serious losses to many countries’ economies, according to a United Nations report launched December 5th, 2016…

Plastic pollution: When The Mermaids Cry: The Great Plastic Tide, Coastal Care
Washed out on our coasts in obvious and clearly visible form, the plastic pollution spectacle blatantly unveiling on our beaches is only the prelude of the greater story that unfolded further away in the world’s oceans, yet mostly originating from where we stand: the land…

Antarctic ice sheets could be at greater risk of melting than previously thought


Antarctica. Photo courtesy of © Denis Delestrac for Coastal Care’s Photo of the Month, July and August 2018.

Excerpts;

Antarctica is the largest reservoir of ice on Earth — but new research by the University of South Australia suggests it could be at greater risk of melting than previously thought…

Read Full Article; Science Daily (12-02-2019)

315 billion-tonne iceberg breaks off Antarctica; BBC News (09-30-2019)
The Amery Ice Shelf in Antarctica has just produced its biggest iceberg in more than 50 years…

This Florida Keys neighborhood has been flooded for nearly 3 months


Photo source: ©© Bryan Elkus

Excerpts;

The flooding here and elsewhere is happening during so-called “king tides.” Those are times, mostly in the fall, when the moon’s gravitational pull means tides are higher than usual.

Read Full Article; NPR (11-28-2019)

Rising tides force Miami Beach residents to seek higher ground; CBS News (09-25-2019)

Column: High-rises spell the end for Florida beaches; By Orrin H. Pilkey and J. Andrew G. Cooper; Tampa Bay (07-25-2017)
Floridians are becoming more attuned to sea level rise and more familiar with nuisance flooding related to the rising sea. However, we believe there is less recognition that by century’s end it is likely that most of Florida’s major beaches will be permanently gone…

California King Tides Project: January 10-12 and February 8-9, 2020; California Coastal Commission (10-31-2019)

Worst floods for 50 years bring Venice to ‘its knees’; CNN (11-13-2019)
The worst flooding to hit Venice in more than 50 years has brought the historic city to its knees. Local authorities in the Italian lagoon city called for a state of emergency to be imposed…

Indian Ocean Dipole spells flood danger for East Africa; The New Humanitarian (10-22-2019)
Hundreds of thousands of people in East Africa are affected by heavy rains and floods linked to record-breaking temperature changes in the Indian Ocean. As a result, higher evaporation off the African coastline is being dumped inland as rainfall: a simplified description of 2019’s positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) episode…

Engineers hope high-tech sandbags will keep the beach in Waikiki from disappearing

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Coastal erosion, Hawaii. “Sandbagging is pretty much an exercise in futility. The only benefit is psychological, the feeling of doing something…” Captions and Photo source: ©© Davidd

Excerpts;

A fresh round of repairs to Hawaii’s most famous beach have been completed ― and engineers hope their latest idea will do more to help the shoreline from washing away.

Over the last three weeks, and at a cost of roughly $700,000, engineers worked to install a 95-foot sandbag groin at Waikiki Beach, along with hauling in tons of new sand to help replenish it…

Read Full Article; Hawaii News (11-29-2019)

‘Sand mattress’ technology to combat Mother Nature at Kuhio Beach; KHON News (12-17-2017)

Waikiki Beach Is Totally Man-Made And Disappearing. Can Hawaii Save It?Huffington Green (03-10-2015)

Doubling of Coastal Erosion by Mid-Century in Hawai’i, Science Daily (03-24-2015)
Chronic erosion dominates the sandy beaches of Hawai’i, causing beach loss as it damages homes, infrastructure, and critical habitat. Researchers have long understood that global sea level rise will affect the rate of coastal erosion. However, new research indicates that coastal erosion of Hawai’i’s beaches may double by mid-century…

Terminal Groins Don’t Stop Erosion; Coastal Review (05-03-2016)

The Negative Impacts Of Groins, (02-12-2009)
The negative impact of groins on downdrift shorelines is well understood. When a groin works as intended, sand moving along the beach in the so-called downdrift direction is trapped on the updrift side of the groin, causing a sand deficit and increasing erosion rates on the downdrift side. This well-documented and unquestioned impact is widely cited in the engineering and geologic literature.

Seawalls: Ecological effects of coastal armoring in soft sediment environments; Science Daily (07-24-2017)
For nearly a century, America’s coasts — particularly those with large urban populations — have been armored with human made structures such as seawalls. These structures essentially draw a line in the sand that constrains the ability of the shoreline to respond to changes in sea level and other dynamic coastal processes…

“Seawalls Kill Beaches,” Open Letters by Warner Chabot And Rob Young; (10-03-2014)

Living on the shores of Hawaii: natural hazards, the environment, and our communities, A book by Chip Fletcher; Robynne Boyd, William J. Neal and Virginia Tice.
“Living on the shores of Hawaii: natural hazards, the environment, and our communities” addresses a wide range of environmental concerns within the context of sustainability and their influence on the future of Hawaii…

Sandbagging at the Shore: North Carolina’s Coastal Sand Bags and Political Sandbaggers; By William Neal, Orrin Pilkey & Norma Longo;
The wonder of modern English is how social use of language expands and changes the meaning of words. Sand bag is a bag filled with sand used for temporary construction—quickly made, easily transported, and easily removed. Typically, sandbagging is the emplacement of sand bags to construct a temporary protective wall or barrier, such as a dike or dam to hold back flood waters, or protection on the battlefield. But the term ‘sandbagging’ has taken on an array of other meanings…

Rethinking Living Shorelines, By Orrin H. Pilkey, Rob Young, Norma Longo, and Andy Coburn;Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines / Western Carolina University, March 1, 2012, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University
In response to the detrimental environmental impacts caused by traditional erosion control structures, environmental groups, state and federal resource management agencies, now advocate an approach known as “Living Shorelines”that embraces the use of natural habitat elements such as indigenous vegetation, to stabilize and protect eroding shorelines.

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Waikiki beach-renourishement, 2012. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care.
“Hawaii’s famed Waikiki Beach started to erode again, less than a year after the completion of a $2.2 million project to replenish the sand on about 1,730 feet of shoreline that had been suffering from chronic erosion.”
“Development is absolutely responsible for the majority of the beach nourishment,” Andrew Coburn, assistant director of The Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University, said. “Well over 99 percent of the shorelines that are nourished are developed so there is some economic value placed behind them.”

New Earth mission will track rising oceans into 2030


The Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 mission that will track sea level rise, one of the clearest signs of global warming, for the next 10 years. Sentinel-6A, the first of the mission’s two satellites, is shown in its clean room in Germany and is scheduled to launch in November 2020. Credits: IABG

By NASA;

Earth’s climate is changing, and the study of oceans is vital to understanding the effects of those changes on our future. For the first time, U.S and European agencies are preparing to launch a 10-year satellite mission to continue to study the clearest sign of global warming — rising sea levels. The Sentinel-6/Jason-CS mission (short for Jason-Continuity of Service), will be the longest-running mission dedicated to answering the question: How much will Earth’s oceans rise by 2030?

By 2030, Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will add to nearly 40 years of sea level records, providing us with the clearest, most sensitive measure of how humans are changing the planet and its climate.

The mission consists of two identical satellites, Sentinel-6A and Sentinel-6B, launching five years apart. The Sentinel-6A spacecraft was on display for the media on Nov. 15 for a last look in its clean room in Germany’s IABG space test center. The satellite is being prepared for a scheduled launch in November 2020 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS follows in the footsteps of four other joint U.S.-European satellite missions — TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1, Ocean Surface Topography/Jason-2, and Jason-3 — that have measured sea level rise over the past three decades. The data gathered by those missions have shown that Earth’s oceans are rising by an average of 0.1 inches (3 millimeters) per year.

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will continue that work, studying not just sea level change but also changes in ocean circulation, climate variability such as El Niño and La Niña, and weather patterns, including hurricanes and storms.

“Global sea level rise is, in a way, the most complete measure of how humans are changing the climate,” said Josh Willis, the mission’s project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “If you think about it, global sea level rise means that 70% of Earth’s surface is getting taller — 70% of the planet is changing its shape and growing. So it’s the whole planet changing. That’s what we’re really measuring.”

Decades of space- and ground-based observations have documented Earth’s surface temperature rising at a rapidly accelerating rate. The oceans help to stabilize our climate by absorbing over 90% of the heat trapped on the planet by excess greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, that have been emitted into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

As the oceans warm, they expand, increasing the volume of water; the trapped heat also melts ice sheets and glaciers, contributing further to sea level rise. The rate at which it is rising has accelerated over the past 25 years and is expected to continue accelerating in years to come.

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will measure down to the millimeter how much global sea level rises during the 2020s and how fast that rise accelerates. As the rate increases, humans will need to adapt to the effects of rising seas — including flooding, coastal erosion, hazards from storms and negative impacts to marine life.

Along with measuring sea level rise, the mission will provide datasets that can help with weather predictions, assessing temperature changes in the atmosphere and collecting high-resolution vertical profiles of temperature and humidity.

As with its Jason-series predecessors, Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will gather global ocean data every 10 days, providing insights into large ocean features like El Niño events. However, unlike previous Jason-series missions, its higher-resolution instruments will also be able to provide data on smaller ocean features — including complex currents — that will benefit navigation and fishing communities.


One week’s worth of data from NASA’s Earth observing satellites show the rising sea level on Earth between Oct. 29 and Nov. 7, 2019. Areas in red show higher levels, while blue show the lowest. The joint U.S.-European Sentinel-6/Jason-CS mission will continue efforts to track sea level rise. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Global sea level rise is one of the most expensive and disruptive impacts of climate change that there is,” said Willis. “In our lifetimes, we’re not going to see global sea level fall by a meaningful amount. We’re literally charting how much sea level rise we’re going have to deal with for the next several generations.”

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS is being jointly developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellite (EUMETSAT), NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with funding support from the European Commission and support from France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES). NASA’s contributions to the Sentinel-6 mission are science instrument payloads for the two Sentinel-6 satellites, launch services for those satellites, ground systems supporting the science instruments operations and support for the international Ocean Surface Topography Science Team.

Original Article; NASA (11-20-2019)

New technology developed to improve forecasting of Earthquakes, Tsunamis


Photograph: © SAF – Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Geoscientists have successfully developed and tested a new high-tech shallow water buoy that can detect the small movements and changes in the Earth’s seafloor that are often a precursor to deadly natural hazards…

Read Full Article; Science Daily (11-22-2019)

Rising sea levels threatens coastal cities with more tsunamis, scientists warn; The Telegraph UK (08-15-2018)

Are We Wiser About Tsunamis? Science Daily (09-23-2015)

More People Could Survive Tsunami If They Walk Faster, ABC News (04-15-2015)

Sri Lanka wields mangroves, its tsunami shield, against climate change; MongaBay (09-22-2019)
Fifteen years after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Sri Lanka’s government intends to keep expanding the island’s coastal green belt — the chain of mangrove swamps credited with limiting the damage and destruction of the deadly waves…

Tsunamis could cause beach tourism to lose hundreds of millions of dollars every year; Science Daily (04-12-2018)
European tourists are more frequently going to places all over the world with significant tsunami risk, researchers have found. A global tourism destination risk index for tsunamis was released on April 12, at the 2018 Annual Conference of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) in Vienna…

The Environmental Cost of Land Reclamation

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Land reclamation, Hong Kong, South China Sea. Photograph: © SAF – Coastal Care.
“Sand is the second most consumed natural resource, after water. The construction-building industry is by far the largest consumer of this finite resource, followed by the land reclamation industry. The Sand business has been estimated to be a $70 billion industry, worldwide…” Captions from Award-winning Filmmaker: ©2013 Denis Delestrac

Excerpts;

The stories exposed the powerful commercial interests behind reclamation in China’s coastal regions over the previous decade and the widespread damage they had done to marine ecosystems…

Read Full Article; Caixin Environment (11-08-2019)

Hong Kong land reclamation explained: the good, bad and ugly methods of pushing back the sea; SCMP (07-29-2018)

Government’s ambitious 2030 land reclamation plan to cost HK$400 billion; South China Morning Post (12-04-2016)

Cities from the sea: the true cost of reclaimed land; Guardian UK (05-02-2018)
Asia is growing. Literally. From Malaysia to Dubai, luxury developments are rising on artificial islands and coastlines. Everybody wins – except the local sea life and the fishermen who depend on it…

Hong Kong’s Government Is Spending Billions Taking Land from the Sea; Vice (11-10-2017)
Through expensive, time intensive, and complicated land reclamation projects, Hong Kong is continually extending out and into the water, where there wasn’t land before…

Built on Sand: Singapore and the New State of Risk, Harvard Design Magazine (09-07-2015)
The island’s expansion has been a colossal undertaking. It is not merely a matter of coastal reclamation: Singapore is growing vertically as well as horizontally. This means that the nation’s market needs fine river sand—used for beaches and concrete—as well as coarse sea sand to create new ground…

Cambodia’s villagers lose ground – literally – to Singapore’s expansion; CSM (10-21-2016)
Singapore is buying tens of millions of tons of sand for its land reclamation projects. Their dredging is destroying Cambodia’s coastal mangrove forests, and fishermen’s livelihoods with them. But the villagers are pushing back…

Monaco’s $2.3bn project to expand into Mediterranean Sea; CNN (01-04-2018)
Now construction has begun on a €2 billion ($2.3 billion) project to extend the natural contour of Monaco’s coastline a further 15 acres into the Mediterranean…

Such Quantities of Sand, The Economist (07-27-2015)
Asia’s mania for reclaiming land from the sea spawns mounting problems…

Land reclamation has harmed marine life: Survey, The Peninsula Quatar (03-05-2017)
Survey shows that land reclamation has adverse effects on coral reefs and fish quantity has decreased in the last five years in the coastal areas of Doha, Quatar…

What Happens to a Coral Reef When an Island is Built on Top? the Washington Post (07-11-2015)
Seven such coral reefs are being turned into islands, with harbors and landing strips by the Chinese military, and it is destroying a rich ecological network. “It’s the worst thing that has happened to coral reefs in our lifetime…”

Sand, Rarer Than One Thinks: A UNEP report (GEA-March 2014)
Despite the colossal quantities of sand and gravel being used, our increasing dependence on them and the significant impact that their extraction has on the environment, this issue has been mostly ignored by policy makers and remains largely unknown by the general public.
In March 2014 The United Nations released its first Report about sand mining. “Sand Wars” film documentary by Denis Delestrac – first broadcasted on the european Arte Channel, May 28th, 2013, where it became the highest rated documentary for 2013 – expressly inspired the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to publish this 2014-Global Environmental Alert.

Sand Wars, An Investigation Documentary, By Multi Award-Winning Filmmaker Denis Delestrac (©-2013)

Global Sand Mining: Learn More, Coastal Care

Trump Administration announces plan to expand oil development in Alaska


Alaska. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

The Trump administration announced a new plan that could open up an additional 6.6 million acres within the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska to fossil fuel development.

One of the plan’s proposals would allow drilling on 80 percent of the reserve, considered the largest undisturbed tract of public land in the United States…

Read Full Article; Yale E360 (11-22-2019)

Trump Moves to Open Nearly All Offshore Waters to Drilling; The New York Times (01-04-2018)

Trump Spares NO Coast, Every State at Risk: A Call To Take Action, By NRDC (01-05-2018)

US official reveals Atlantic drilling plan while hailing Trump’s ability to distract public; Guardian UK (03-14-2019)

Business View: ‘No Good Reason For Drilling’; Coastal review (05-31-2017)
Every aspect of offshore drilling, from exploration to transporting the product from the drilling site, has implications for marine life and coastal communities…

The ‘Job-Killing’ Fiction Behind Trump’s Retreat on Fuel Economy Standards; Yale E360 (04-20-2017)

Estimates of offshore drilling’s benefits exaggerated, report says, The Virginian Pilot (12-15-2015)

Trump, reversing Obama, will push to expand drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic, The Washington Post (04-28-2017)