Category Archives: News

Some Coral Reefs Less Vulnerable to Rising Sea Temperatures

Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care


New research highlighting coastal locations where coral can better withstand rising sea temperatures, a leading cause of stress to coral reefs, may guide efforts to conserve the largest living structures on Earth.

The findings hold promise for an estimated 100 million people living along the coasts of tropical developing countries whose livelihoods and welfare depend directly on coral reefs, but are currently under threat from climate change…

Read Full Article, Science Daily

Report Finds Oil-Drilling Inspectors in Disarray

Photo source: ©© Jen Farr


Federal inspectors charged with ensuring the safety of offshore oil drilling are overwhelmed, insufficiently trained, work without official procedures for some of their most crucial decisions and sometimes have insufficient support from their supervisors for resisting industry influence, according to a report released Tuesday by the Interior Department’s inspector general…

Read Full Article, The New York Times

Inspectors Adrift in Rig-Safety Push, Outgunned by Industry and Outmatched by Job, WSJ

Illegal Sea Sand Dredging Leaves Behind Environmental Mess, China

Sand barge, Hong Kong. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care


The city of Qingdao in Shandong Province is known for its sandy beaches, wild beer festival and its unique architecture. But recent visitors might have noticed something else: ugly dredging vessels pumping sea sand to be used for construction projects.

Boats deliver the sand to construction sites including airports, highways and homes…

Read Full Article, Global Times China

Plastic Waste Pollutes Adriatic coast

Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care


A Montenegrin beach on the Adriatic coast has been left covered in plastic bottles, medical waste and parts from household appliances, an environmental group said Tuesday.

The waste was carried to the beach by the Bojana river which forms a natural border between Montenegro and Albania and flows into the Adriatic near the southern Montenegrin town of Ulcinj whose 12-kilometre (nine mile) long beach was littered with the waste…

Read Full Article, AFP

Land Reclamation at Rotterdam, Netherlands

Sand dredging off the Dutch coast. Sand is brought from a certain distance from the coast with this kind of ship. Then, it’s added to the beach or dumped in the sea very close to the coastline. Photo source: ©© Inyucho

Excerpt from NASA, Earth observatory

In between Germany and France sit the Low Countries, a coastal region of northwestern Europe, consisting of Belgium, the Nehterlands, and Luxembourg, also called Benelux, and where much of the land surface lies near or even below sea level.

This is the case with a quarter of the land in the Netherlands, where the low elevation leaves the land vulnerable to floods. For the past 2,000 years, the Dutch have employed ever-increasing ingenuity to not only hold back the sea, but to annex land from the North Sea. By the thirteenth century, the Dutch were regularly using windmills to pump water off reclaimed areas known as polders. The Netherlands’ polders have been used for crops, settlements, and ports.

A large-scale application of land reclamation has occurred at Rotterdam.

The Landsat 5 satellite observed the port’s expansion on July 16, 2006, July 1, 2009, and July 4, 2010.

Rotterdam Land Reclamation
Rotterdam, July 16, 2006

Rotterdam Land Reclamation
Rotterdam, July 1, 2009

Rotterdam Land Reclamation
Rottedam, July 4, 2010

Originating as a fourteenth-century settlement along a small peat river, Rotterdam eventually grew into Europe’s largest seaport. By 2009, 400 million tons of cargo traveled through the port, but Rotterdam was nearing its capacity. To keep the port competitive, authorities undertook an ambitious project aimed at tripling the port’s capacity.

The aim of the Rotterdam project, known as Maasvlakte 2, is to add 5,000 acres of new land while keeping the port fully functional. Using the same fleet of dredging ships that built Dubai’s Palm Islands, construction workers steadily acquired new land from the sea floor. The process involved sucking sand from the bottom of the ocean and spraying that sand onto designated areas to build up their height. With the sand in place, the next step would involve paving the reclaimed land with some 20,000 massive stone blocks to prevent the reclaimed areas from washing away.

The primary aim for the new land is to serve as container terminals. Raw materials and finished goods shipped over the globe today usually travel in uniformly sized containers that can be transferred between trucks, trains, and ships. By increasing Rotterdam’s container capacity, the Maasvlakte 2 can prevent the port from becoming a trade bottleneck.

Original Article

Maasvlakte 2, Project

Rotterdam Port, Official Site

Rotterdam Port Expansion, It’s Full Speed Ahead, The Wall Street Journal,

Maritime Getaway

2008, Starts of Maasvlakte 2

The Netherlands has grown in size, Dredging Today
An over 4-km long dike has been attached to the mainland off the coast of Rotterdam. The dike forms the contour of Maasvlakte 2, the new expansion of the Rotterdam port. As the coastline presently looks different, the Dutch maps will need to be adapted.

Maasvlakte 2, Science Discovery
The Port of Rotterdam is already Europe’s biggest port, but the Maasvlakte 2 expansion will triple its container capacity in one bold stroke. Stretching 3 miles beyond the former coastline, Maasvlakte 2 will be as large as Midtown and Downtown Manhattan combined.

Dredging Today
Since work started on the construction of Maasvlakte 2 two years ago, 170 million m3 of sand has been brought in. That is more than would be needed to fill the Rotterdam – Fyenoord soccer stadium to the brim 100 times.

Rotterdam Land Reclamation
Rotterdam Land Reclamation, March 27, 2010. Photo Source: Bart Van Damme

If an island state vanishes, is it still a nation?

Rising sea, Maldives. Photo courtesy of: © Denis Delestrac


Encroaching seas in the far Pacific are raising the salt level in the wells of the Marshall Islands. Waves threaten to cut one sliver of an island in two. “It’s getting worse,” says Kaminaga Kaminaga, the tiny nation’s climate change coordinator.

The rising ocean raises questions, too: What happens if the 61,000 Marshallese must abandon their low-lying atolls? Would they still be a nation? With a U.N. seat? With control of their old fisheries and their undersea minerals? Where would they live, and how would they make a living? Who, precisely, would they and their children become?

For years global negotiations to act on climate change have dragged on, with little to show. Parties to the 193-nation U.N. climate treaty are meeting again in this Caribbean resort, but no one expects decisive action to roll back the industrial, agricultural and transport emissions blamed for global warming, and consequently for swelling seas.

From 7,000 miles (11,000 kilometers) away, the people of the Marshalls, and of Kiribati, Tuvalu and other atoll nations beyond — can only wonder how many more years they’ll be able to cope.

“People who built their homes close to shore, all they can do is get more rocks to rebuild the seawall in front day by day,” said Kaminaga, who is in Cancun with the Marshallese delegation to the U.N. talks.

The Marshallese government is looking beyond today, however, to those ultimate questions of nationhood, displacement and rights.

“We’re facing a set of issues unique in the history of the system of nation-states,” Dean Bialek, a New York-based adviser to the Republic of the Marshall Islands who is also in Cancun, told The Associated Press. “We’re confronting existential issues associated with climate impacts that are not adequately addressed in the international legal framework.”

The Marshallese government took a first step to confront these issues by asking for advice from the Center for Climate Change Law at New York’s Columbia University. The center’s director, Michael B. Gerrard, in turn has asked legal scholars worldwide to assemble at Columbia next May to begin to piece together answers.

Nations have faded into history through secession, recently with the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, for example, or through conquest or ceding their territory to other countries.

But “no country has ever physically disappeared, and it’s a real void in the law,” Gerrard said during an interview in New York.

The U.N. network of climate scientists projects that seas, expanding from heat and from the runoff of melting land ice, may rise by up to 1.94 feet (0.59 meters) by 2100, swamping much of the scarce land of coral atolls.

But the islands may become uninhabitable long before waves wash over them, because of the saline contamination of water supplies and ruining of crops, and because warming is expected to produce more threatening tropical storms.

“If a country like Tuvalu or Kiribati were to become uninhabitable, would the people be stateless? What’s their position in international law?” asked Australian legal scholar Jane McAdam. “The short answer is, it depends. It’s complicated.”

McAdam, of the University of New South Wales, has traveled in the atoll nations and studied the legal history.

As far as islanders keeping their citizenship and sovereignty if they abandon their homelands, she said by telephone from Sydney, “it’s unclear when a state would end because of climate change. It would come down to what the international community was prepared to tolerate,” that is, whether the U.N. General Assembly would move to take a seat away from a displaced people.

The 1951 global treaty on refugees, mandating that nations shelter those fleeing because of persecution, does not cover the looming situation of those displaced by climate change. Some advocate negotiating a new international pact obliging similar treatment for environmental refugees.

In the case of the Marshallese, the picture is murkier. Under a compact with Washington, citizens of the former U.S. trusteeship territory have the right to freely enter the U.S. for study or work, but their right to permanent residency must be clarified, government advisers say.

The islanders worry, too, about their long-term economic rights. The wide scattering of the Marshalls’ 29 atolls, 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii, give them an exclusive economic zone of 800,000 square miles (2 million square kilometers) of ocean, an area the size of Mexico.

The tuna coursing through those waters are the Marshalls’ chief resource, exploited by selling licenses to foreign fishing fleets. “If their islands go underwater, what becomes of their fishing rights?” Gerrard asked. Potentially just as important: revenues from magnesium and other sea-floor minerals that geologists have been exploring in recent years.

While lawyers at next May’s New York conference begin to sort out the puzzle of disappeared nations, the Marshallese will grapple with the growing problems.

The “top priority,” Kaminaga said, is to save the isthmus linking the Marshalls’ Jaluit island to its airport, a link now swept by high tides.

Meantime, a lingering drought this year led islanders to tap deeper into their wells, finding salty water requiring them to deploy emergency desalination units. And “parts of the islands are eroding away,” Kaminaga said, as undermined lines of coconut palms topple into the sea.

This week in Cancun and in the months to come, the Marshalls’ representatives will seek international aid for climate adaptation. They envision such projects as a Jaluit causeway, replanting of protective vegetation on shorelines, and a 3-mile-long (5-kilometer-long) seawall protecting their capital, Majuro, from the Pacific’s rising tides.

Islanders’ hopes are fading, however, for quick, decisive action to slash global emissions and save their remote spits of land for the next century.

“If all these financial and diplomatic tools don’t work, I think some countries are looking at some kind of legal measures,” said Dessima Williams, Grenada’s U.N. ambassador and chair of a group of small island-nations. Those measures might include appeals to the International Court of Justice or other forums for compensation, a difficult route at best.

In the end, islanders wonder, too, what will happen to their culture, their history, their identity with a homeland, even to their ancestors, if they must leave.

“Cemeteries along the coastline are being eroded. Gravesites are falling into the sea,” Kaminaga said. “Even in death we’re affected.”

Original Article

National monument status urged for Arctic refuge

Located in northeastern Alaska, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the most northern and one of the largest refuges within America’s National Wildlife Refuge System. (ANWR). Image Source: USGS


The US President is being urged to bestow national monument status on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for its 50th anniversary in what supporters say would finally put the refuge’s coastal plain beyond the reach of oil companies.

Original Article

55 Percent of Venice Under Acqua Alta, Italy

Photograph: SAF – Coastal Care


In Venice, Italy people awoke to warning sirens as the “acqua alta,” or high water, reached the highest level yet this year, leaving 55 per cent of the city underwater. The first “acqua alta” or high water of the winter swamped Venice’s historic district Friday, including St. Mark’s Square in the heart of the city…

Read Full Article

National Geographic Article

NOVA, Sinking Venice

That sinking feeling

Cancun’s Beaches: Vanishing Sand and Wasted Money

Cancun beach erosion. Photo source: ©© John M


Cancun’s eroding white sand beaches are providing a note of urgency to the climate talks being held just south of this seaside resort famed for its postcard-perfect vistas.

Rising sea levels and a series of unusually powerful hurricanes have aggravated the folly of building a tourist destination atop shifting sand dunes on a narrow peninsula…

Read Full Article; USA Today (12-04-2010)

The Battles For The Beaches of Cancun; The Independent (05-08-2010)

Sand Trafficking: Elaborate Schemes,