Category Archives: Sea Level Rise

Rising Seas Will Affect Major U.S. Coastal Cities by 2100

This map shows where increases in sea level could affect the southern and Gulf coasts of the US. The colors indicate areas along the coast that are elevations of 1 meter or less (russet) or 6 meters or less (yellow) and have connectivity to the sea. Caption and Photo Source: Jeremy Weiss, University of Arizona


Rising sea levels could threaten an average of 9 percent of the land within 180 U.S. coastal cities by 2100, according to new research led by University of Arizona scientists.

The Gulf and southern Atlantic coasts could be particularly hard hit. Miami, New Orleans, Tampa, Fla., and Virginia Beach, Va. could lose more than 10 percent of their land area by 2100.

The research is the first analysis of vulnerability to sea-level rise that includes every U.S. coastal city in the lower 48 with a population of 50,000 or more.

The latest scientific projections indicate that by 2100, the sea level will rise about 1 meter – or even more. One meter is about 3 feet.

At the current rate of global warming, sea level is projected to continue rising after 2100 by as much as 1 meter per century…

Read Full Article, University Of Arizona

If Greenhouse Gas Emissions Stopped Now, Earth Would Still Likely Get Warmer

Photo Source: Karl Dolenc

Excerpt from The university Of Washington

While governments debate about potential policies that might curb the emission of greenhouse gases, new University of Washington research shows that the world is already committed to a warmer climate because of emissions that have occurred up to now.

There would continue to be warming even if the most stringent policy proposals were adopted, because there still would be some emission of heat, trapping greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. But the new research shows that even if all emissions were stopped now, temperatures would remain higher than pre-Industrial Revolution levels because the greenhouse gases already emitted are likely to persist in the atmosphere for thousands of years.

In fact, it is possible temperatures would continue to escalate even if all cars, heating and cooling systems and other sources of greenhouse gases were suddenly eliminated, said Kyle Armour, a UW doctoral student in physics. That’s because tiny atmospheric particles called aerosols, which tend to counteract the effect of greenhouse warming by reflecting sunlight back into space, would last only a matter of weeks once emissions stopped, while the greenhouse gases would continue on.

“The aerosols would wash out quickly and then we would see an abrupt rise in temperatures over several decades,” he said.
Armour is the lead author of a paper documenting the research, published recently in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. His co-author is Gerard Roe, a UW associate professor of Earth and space sciences.

The global temperature is already about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit higher than it was before the Industrial Revolution, which began around the start of the 19th century. The scientists’ calculations took into account the observed warming, as well as the known levels of greenhouse gases and aerosols already emitted to see what might happen if all emissions associated with industrialization suddenly stopped.

In the best-case scenario, the global temperature would actually decline, but it would remain about a half-degree F higher than pre-Industrial Revolution levels and probably would not drop to those levels again, Armour said.

There also is a possibility temperatures would rise to 3.5 degrees F higher than before the Industrial Revolution, a threshold at which climate scientists say significant climate-related damage begins to occur.

Of course it is not realistic to expect all emissions to cease suddenly, and Armour notes that the overall effect of aerosols, particles of sea salt or soot from burning fossil fuels, for example, is perhaps the largest uncertainty in climate research.
But uncertainties do not lessen the importance of the findings, he said. The scientists are confident, from the results of equations they used, that some warming would have to occur even if all emissions stopped now. But there are more uncertainties, and thus a lower confidence level, associated with larger temperature increases.

Climate models used in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments take into consideration a much narrower range of the possible aerosol effects, or “forcings,” than are supported by actual climate observations, Armour said. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning panel, sponsored by the United Nations, makes periodic assessments of climate change and is in the process of compiling its next report.

As emissions of greenhouse gases continue, the “climate commitment” to a warmer planet only goes up, Armour said. He believes it is helpful for policy makers to understand that level of commitment. It also will be helpful for them to understand that, while some warming is assured, uncertainties in current climate observations, such as the full effect of aerosols, mean the warming could be greater than models suggest.

“This is not an argument to say we should keep emitting aerosols,” he said. “It is an argument that we should be smart in how we stop emitting. And it’s a call to action because we know the warming we are committed to from what we have emitted already and the longer we keep emitting the worse it gets.”

Original Article

Thawing Permafrost and Accelerated CO2 Emission

Artist and scientist make a natural pair: united, they are an educational force

Core Banks (NC), 48” x 35.” Batik on silk by Mary Edna Fraser

By Celie Dailey

In the minds of artist Mary Edna Fraser and geologist Orrin H. Pilkey, their two disciplines do not seem so far apart. Their first meeting in 1993 occurred when Mary Edna accompanied Orrin on an excursion to Cape Lookout National Seashore to do some “ground truthing” with his students. They soon realized that their passions for barrier islands were equal, although seated in different bodies of knowledge. Over the roar of the Duke University research vessel, they shook hands.

World-renowned coastal geologist Orrin H. Pilkey says of his pairing with the artist: “Mary Edna Fraser and I are partners in appreciation and concern for barrier islands. I come into the partnership with experience in study of the oceanographic and geologic actions of these islands and fascination with the hugely dynamic nature of these moveable strips of sand. Fraser comes into the partnership because she is intrigued by their forms, contrasts, historical significance, and beauty. We hope that together we can play a role in preserving barrier islands for future generations.”

Mary Edna Fraser is an internationally recognized master of the textile art of batik who has flown the eastern seaboard of America and many foreign coastlines in her search for pristine environments that form the basis of her art. (For an explanation of batik art, see Mary Edna’s website).

Together, Fraser and Pilkey bring an understanding of coastal geology and global change to the public in a way that is scientifically astute and visually intriguing.

North Carolina native Mary Edna Fraser’s first task for Pilkey was to photograph Core Banks as the basis for her batik on silk, seen here. Her father, Claude Burkhead, Jr., piloted the family’s 1946 Ercoupe to the Outer Banks on a mission to supply Pilkey with aerial images in February of 1995. Thus began a continuous collaboration, publishing of A Celebration of the World’s Barrier Islands in their critically acclaimed 2003 text from Columbia University Press.

Numerous exhibitions and lectures combining Pilkey’s text and Fraser’s art have followed since their meeting, beginning with “Aerial Inspirations” at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in 1994. Their current efforts are directed toward Global Change: A Primer, an upcoming publication by Duke University Press, co-authored by Orrin’s son Keith Pilkey.

Orrin H. Pilkey gives insight into Core Banks in their book, A Celebration of the World’s Barrier Islands: “Core Banks, shown here, is part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore and is a rare natural laboratory to study barrier island migration.

During Hurricane Dennis, the island migrated a foot or so toward the mainland….Most of the overwash sand penetrated only a few tens of yards, but the occasional large wave combined with a high tide and high storm surge level to push sand completely across the island and into the south behind. The net result was an island with a slightly higher average elevation than before the storm….What happened on Core Banks was a tiny step in the island’s long-term response to sea level rise. Because the ocean-facing beach retreated a bit and the mainland-facing lagoon side of the island built out a bit into the lagoon, the entire island moved landward ever so slightly.”The island that is eroding on both sides did not disappear, but instead was reinforced and strengthened.

Increased storminess, and even a subtle change in sea level rise, will certainly continue to cause economic hardship on developed barrier islands around the world. These islands continue to exist because they are able to respond dynamically to change. They have persisted through great dips and swells in sea level. In conversation on the beach, Orrin has reminded Mary Edna that erosion only becomes a problem on these islands when man’s structures become threatened. And, as we face an unstable future, it is wise to avoid building here, where the first effects of global change are already being seen.

Mary Edna takes liberties with color and design to convey the enthusiasm with which she and Orrin view the natural world. Inspired by images of Japan’s Edo Period (1615-1868), Fraser depicts the “floating world” in which she flies. Fraser hopes that their current text will reach a broad audience and, in her own words, that “…the art in this book enhances the scientific research of the authors. We live in a time where, like Newton, fact is questioned and scoffed. Perhaps the images will help open windows into minds presently shuttered. Education enlightens and our future depends on honest conversations based in empirical reality.”

Fraser and Pilkey’s upcoming exhibition, Our Expanding Oceans: The Blending of Art and Science, at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (June 2011 – May 2012) presents the largest collection of Fraser’s batik art ever on display. It will show a spectrum of history between Mary Edna Fraser and Orrin H. Pilkey with a focus on melting ice and rising seas.

Expect to see continued coverage of Fraser and Pilkey’s endeavors published by on a monthly basis.

The Beaches of Core Banks

By Orrin H. Pilkey, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Earth Sciences, Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment

Horses Outer Banks Beaches
Wild horses often emerge from the interior dunes of Shackleford Banks to wander along the ocean shore.

The beaches of Core Banks Core Banks’ beaches are a vanishing breed. They are almost purely natural with no contamination or dilution by artificial (nourishment) sand. The beaches on islands to the north (Ocracoke) and to the south (Shackleford Banks) are also unnourished although a lot of beach bulldozing has gone on at the north end of Ocracoke to protect the Highway 12. All these island beaches are pristine because they are part of the US National Seashore System.

The sand on Core Banks is primarily quartz with a small amount of plagioclase feldspar (5% plus or minus) and some heavy minerals that form the black sand patches on this beach. Occasionally there are small patches of purple sand which form when the winds are just right to whisk away the other heavy minerals leaving a concentration of purple garnet behind. There is a fair amount of ground up shell material in the beach sand (less then 10% as a rule) that gives the beach a light yellow brown coloration because the shell is stained brown from iron oxide.

The main sources of sand for Core Banks’ beaches are:
– The adjacent continental shelf, pushed up by waves.
– Longshore transport mainly from the north.

Rivers are not contributing sand at present because the sand they are transporting drops out at the heads of local estuaries, miles inland from the beaches. Sand is lost from the beaches of Core Banks as follows:
– Storm overwash when sand is deposited on the island by storm waves.
– Offshore movement of sand during large storms.
– Alongshore transport of sand in a north to south direction.

Sand is transported dominantly from north to south on the beach, eventually ending up at the tip of Cape Lookout where the sand travels seaward, out on to the Cape Lookout Shoals. Most of Core Banks’ sand does not turn the corner at the cape and continue downcoast.

Mary Edna Fraser

Flying Artist Preserves Beauty of Shifting Barrier Islands, National Gegraphic

Delete Apathy

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

50 Houses On Kiawah Sand, in Coastal Care

UK’s Prince Charles blasts climate-change skeptics


By the Associated Press

Prince Charles lashed out Wednesday at climate change skeptics, saying they are playing “a reckless game of roulette” with the planet’s future.

Skeptics are having a “corrosive effect” on public opinion, the British heir to the throne added.

“Their suggestion, that hundreds of scientists around the world … are somehow unconsciously biased, creates the implication that many of us are secretly conspiring to undermine and deliberately destroy the entire market-based capitalist system,” he said.

Many doubters, particularly in the United States, have dismissed scientific evidence supporting warming of the earth due to human activity, arguing that the large majority of scientists are wrong, or the consequences of warming overstated.

Charles asked: “How are these people going to face their grandchildren and admit to them that they failed their future?”

Along with top officials of the European Union, Charles was addressing the Low Carbon Prosperity Summit, a conference devoted to engaging more European businesses in promoting a low-carbon economy.

In a speech to a packed European Parliament chamber, Charles touched on topics ranging from the need to protect fisheries and the Amazon rain forest, to making low-carbon emissions affordable and competitive.

Charles, who has been active in promoting environmental issues, was asked to participate in the conference in order to raise public awareness throughout Europe.

“Your presence brings added value and attention to this important issue,” EU President Herman Van Rompuy said.

The prince is a patron of the Cambridge Program for Sustainability Leadership, which works with business, government and civil society to promote a sustainable economic future.


Original Article

Is Climate Change Disinformation a Crime Against Humanity? in Coastal Care

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New Light on Polynesian Migration

Teahupoʻo, on the south-west coast of the island of Tahiti, French Polynesia, southern Pacific Ocean. A surf break known as Chopes off the shore is known for its heavy, glassy waves, often reaching 2 to 3 m (7 to 10 ft) and higher. Photo Source: Flick’r

By Sindhya N. Bhanoo, The New York Times

New genetic research reveals that the migratory story of the Polynesians may be more ancient and complicated than previously thought.

The original migration from the mainland may have had to do with sea level rises occurring at the time, and the formation of an archipelago.

For years, it was generally accepted that Polynesians originated in modern-day Taiwan and began moving south and east about 4,000 years ago. This migration account is based on the research of linguists, the findings of archeologists and some genetic analysis.

But a new study in The American Journal of Human Genetics reports that Polynesians began migrating thousands of years earlier, not from Taiwan, but from mainland Southeast Asia.

The study looked at mitochondrial DNA, which gives information about maternal ancestry. The researchers compared DNA samples from more than 4,700 people in Southeast Asia and Polynesia.

Based on this, they determined that Polynesians arrived in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea at least 6,000 to 8,000 years ago, via Indonesia, and presumably left the mainland about 10,000 years ago.

Linguists believe that Polynesian languages belong to the Austronesian language family, which originated in Taiwan.

Sea Level Rise Polynesia
Sea Level Rise, Palmyra Atoll. Photo Source: Randy Olson / National Geographic

Though the new research seems to leave the linguists in the lurch, Martin Richards, an archaeogeneticist at the University of Leeds in Britain and one of the study’s authors, believes there might be a reasonable explanation.

“It’s still possible there was the elite movement from Taiwan much later that transferred the language,” he said. “The idea would be that we do have very minor lineages that look like they came to Bismarck about 3,500 years ago and may have caused a language shift.”

The original migration from the mainland may have had to do with natural climate change.

“They may have just ended up there because of sea level rises occurring at the time, and the formation of an archipelago,” Dr. Richards said.

Pirogue Polynesie

Original Article

Pacific Northwest warned of climate change dangers


By Allan Dowd, Reuters

Washington state and the province of British Columbia launched a joint effort on Wednesday to warn residents of North America’s Pacific Northwest about the danger that climate change poses to coastal communities.

Officials say they hope that by increasing public awareness about issues such as rising sea levels they can revive flagging support for fighting global warming in the neighboring U.S. state and Canadian province.

“People need to understand what the impacts (of climate change) are,” said Ted Sturdevant, director of the Washington Department of Ecology, warning that the issue is already effecting the coastal region.

Sturdevant said science about climate change has become “politicized” in the eyes of the public, and officials have to do a better job communicating what is known.

Washington and British Columbia are members of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a coalition of seven western states and four provinces that have agreed to launch a regional carbon cap-and-trade system.

The WCI, which is spearheaded by California, was launched because of concerns the U.S. and Canadian federal governments were not doing enough to fight climate change.

But the regional group has had its own struggles, with only three provinces , British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario, and two states, California and New Mexico, expected to be ready when the WCI’s carbon-trading market begins next year.

British Columbia remains committed to the Western Climate Initiative and the development of a carbon cap-and-trade system that is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, said John Yap, the province’s climate minister.

Sturdevant acknowledged that while the WCI was developed around the idea of building a carbon-trading market, it is having look at a “portfolio” of ideas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Efforts to develop a national trading system in the United States have stalled, and Ottawa remains cool to the idea, saying Canada’s actions must tied to what is done in the United States, its biggest trading partner.

Long Beach Tofino
Long Beach Vancouver Island is one of the best beaches in all of British Columbia. This six-mile-long beach on Vancouver Island’s southwest coast is actually connected to a series of other beaches, and it helps to comprise the Pacific Rim National Park.

Original Article

Sea Level Rise on The B.C Coast, Ministry Of Environment, Canada

The Trouble With Seawalls, Tofino, in Coastal Care

Surf’s Up: New Research Monitor Ocean Wave Behavior and Shore Impacts

Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care


Engineers have created a new type of “stereo vision” to use in studying ocean waves as they pound against the shore, providing a better way to understand and monitor this violent, ever-changing environment.

The approach, which uses two video cameras to feed data into an advanced computer system, can observe large areas of ocean waves in real time and help explain what they are doing and why, scientists say…

Read Full Article, Oregon State University

Climate change Litigation, A New Frontier ?

Venicia, Italia. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

By Richard Ingham, AFP

From being a marginal and even mocked issue, climate-change litigation is fast emerging as a new frontier of law where some believe hundreds of billions of dollars are at stake.

Compensation for losses inflicted by man-made global warming would be jaw-dropping, a payout that would make tobacco and asbestos damages look like pocket money…

Read Full Article, AFP