‘Sand is like gold.’ The pricey race to restore Florida beaches before the next hurricane – KOAM News Now

Miami Beach Lifeguard Towers Collage (by Anthony Quintano CC BY 2.0 via Flickr).

For decades, Florida has been restoring its beaches by dredging or trucking in more sand. But the practice is becoming more challenging — and expensive, thanks to the rising cost of beach-quality sand. Offshore sand deposits, especially on Florida’s southeast coast, are dwindling after decades of repeated beach restoration projects. As local governments squabble over the right to use the remaining sand, its price is rising.

“Sand is like gold,” said Michelle Hamor, the planning chief for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ office in Norfolk, Virginia, which is leading the effort to develop a $6 billion plan to protect Miami-Dade County from storm surge. “There are a lot of projects that rely on it, and it’s a limited resource.”

And looming sea level rise, which quickens the pace of beach erosion on developed coastlines, will only make Florida’s future efforts to protect its beaches more complicated and costly…

Over the past 87 years, Florida has spent at least $1.9 billion on beach nourishment, according to the National Beach Nourishment Database. The state government now spends about $30 million to $50 million a year maintaining its beaches, and local governments contribute about the same amount…

Florida beaches were already running low on sand. Then Ian and Nicole hit – the Washington Post

Daytona Beach, 20022 (by Jim Allen CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Fliickr)

In the days since Hurricane Nicole lashed this stretch of Florida coast with punishing winds and a powerful storm surge, contractor A.J. Rockwell has found himself on an urgent mission. He has to find sand — tons of it — and fast.

But these days the usual sources for sand…are running low. What can be found is pricey. Rockwell estimates each house needs at least 275 dump truckloads pushed underneath to be saved … comes out to $330,000 per home…

“I think we’re starting to discover that, despite our best efforts and wanting to throw as much money at this as possible, it has become very difficult to keep these beaches as wide as we would like to keep them,” Robert S. Young, a geology professor at Western Carolina University and director of the Program for Developed Shorelines… “We simply don’t have the capacity to hold all of these beaches in place.”

Shelter from the Storm – Science

An aerial view of the damage Hurricane Ike inflicted upon Gilchrist, Texas (by Jocelyn Augusitno/FEMA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons).

A plan to wall off Houston and nearby industry from flooding caused by hurricanes will cost tens of billions of dollars. Will it be enough?

Plans for one of the world’s biggest and most expensive flood barriers were born in a second-floor apartment here in this city on the Gulf of Mexico, as water 4 meters deep filled the street below. In September 2008, Bill Merrell, an oceanographer at Texas A&M University, Galveston, was trapped with his wife, daughter, grandson, and “two annoying chihuahuas” in the historic building he owns. Outside, 180-kilometer-per-hour winds generated by Hurricane Ike rattled windows and drove water from the gulf and Galveston Bay into the city.

As saltwater swirled through the shops and restaurants downstairs, Merrell sat in his office and sketched plans for a project he hoped would put an end to the storm-driven flooding that had repeatedly devastated this part of Texas.

It was an ambitious vision: Seventy kilometers of seawalls rising 5 meters above sea level would stretch the length of Galveston Island and beyond. Enormous gates would span the 3-kilometer-wide channel through which ships pass in and out of Galveston Bay. The defensive perimeter would seal off not just Galveston, but the whole bay, with Houston at its far end, protecting more than 6 million people and the country’s largest collection of chemical plants and oil refineries.

Though Merrell had spent decades studying ocean currents and storm surges, he had no engineering experience. But as he watched the murky waters soak the city, including his own carefully restored 19th century landmark, he decided there had to be a better way. “The Dutch would never put up with this,” he said to his wife.

Today, that first brainstorm has morphed into a $31 billion plan from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the nation’s builder of mammoth water infrastructure. The state of Texas has embraced the idea, creating a taxing district to help pay its share. In July, Congress authorized the Corps to proceed—though it has yet to appropriate money for construction…

Study finds widespread occurrence of microplastic in Monterey Bay – Santa Cruz Sentinel

Coast of Santa Cruz, Monterey Bay (by Deepika Shrestha Ross © 2013).

In a study published in early November, UC Santa Cruz researchers examined how much microplastic is present in the Monterey Bay and some of its inhabitants, and found that the tiny pieces of plastic pollution are not only prevalent in the water, but also in the fish and seabirds they studied.

“There’s been very little work understanding how much microplastic seabirds are ingesting because it’s not easy to do,” said Myra Finkelstein, adjunct professor at UCSC’s microbiology and environmental toxicology department. “When a bird eats a bottle cap and dies, you can see the bottle cap when you study the bird, but these are small microparticles.”

Although Finkelstein served as the study’s senior author, the microplastic research was spurred by former UCSC grad student and current fellow at the State Water Resources Control Board, Sami Michishita. The study’s goal was to find the prevalence, composition and estrogenic activity of microplastic in the Monterey Bay. Microplastic is plastic debris smaller than 5 millimeters in length, which is about the thickness of a pencil eraser.

In order to understand the bigger picture around these tiny particles, Michishita and her collaborators took water samples from the Moss Landing Marine Laboratory and in Santa Cruz at the Long Marine Laboratory, and focused on two species often found in the bay, northern anchovies and the seabird known as the common murres.

“Common murres are a resident species in the Monterey Bay and are around all the time,” said Finkelstein. “We thought they would be a good representative species for what’s happening in the bay, and anchovies are a big part of their diet.”

The Red Sea’s Coral Reefs Defy the Climate-Change Odds – New York Times

Temple, Red Sea (Andrew K CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr).

…(T)he wildly colorful coral reefs in the waters outside the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, where the annual United Nations climate conference is taking place, are an anomaly: They can tolerate the heat, and perhaps even thrive in it, making them some of the only reefs in the world that have a chance of surviving climate change…

How to move a country: Fiji’s radical plan to escape rising sea levels – the Guardian

The southern coast of Viti Levu, the largest island in Fiji (by Brian CC BY 2.0 via Flickr).

In Fiji, the climate crisis means dozens of villages could soon be underwater. Relocating so many communities is an epic undertaking. But now there is a plan – and the rest of the world is watching

For the past four years, a special government taskforce in Fiji has been trying to work out how to move the country. The plan it has come up with runs to 130 pages of dense text, interspersed with intricate spider graphs and detailed timelines. The document has an uninspiring title – Standard Operating Procedures for Planned Relocations – but it is the most thorough plan ever devised to tackle one of the most urgent consequences of the climate crisis: how to relocate communities whose homes will soon be, or already are, underwater.

The task is huge. Fiji, which lies in the south Pacific, 1,800 miles east of Australia, has more than 300 islands and a population of just under 1 million. Like most of the Pacific, it is starkly susceptible to the impacts of the climate crisis. Surface temperatures and ocean heat in parts of the south-west Pacific are increasing three times faster than the global average rate. Severe cyclones routinely batter the region. In 2016, Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, killing 44 people and causing $1.4bn of damage, a third of Fiji’s GDP. Since then, Fiji has been hit by a further six cyclones. Five of the 15 countries most at risk from weather-related events are in the Pacific. Fiji is number 14…

The Art at COP27 Offered Opportunities to Move Beyond ‘Empty Words’ – Inside Climate News

Bodies Joined by a Molecule of Air by Invisible Flock arts studio and Jon Bausor, November 10, 2022 (by Kiara Worth, UNClimateChange CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 via Flickr).

While the goal of effecting decisive global change proved largely elusive at the United Nations’ annual climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the art at COP27 offered other road maps for moving forward…
“You can’t keep having these conversations amongst yourselves as politicians and academics and scientists,” (Egyptian-Lebanese artist, Bahia Shehab) said. “We’re not getting anywhere. We need to open up the conversation.”

A deal on loss and damage, but a blow to 1.5C – what will be Cop27’s legacy? – the Guardian

At COP27 Closing Plenary, 19 November 2022 (by Kiara Worth, UNFCCC COP27, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 via Flickr).

Developed countries as a bloc are still in the top five emitters, taking historical responsibility into account, but individually they are eclipsed by rapidly growing emerging economies, such as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other petrostates, according to Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton White House climate adviser…
“This Cop was something of a failure, because it completely let the world’s biggest emitter, China, off the hook,” he said. “Global emissions can’t fall until China’s emissions fall. This is the key to climate protection.”