Letting the Sea Have Its Way – Hakai Magazine

Photo at top: Aerial View of the Medmerry Managed Realignment Scheme (by Number 10 CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr).

Welcome to Selsey, a community that welcomed back the marsh.

On May 10, a four-bedroom house perched on the beach of a North Carolina barrier island in the town of Rodanthe collapsed into the ocean. It was not the victim of a violent hurricane strike or storm surge. Rather, a low-pressure system coupled with a high tide drew ocean waves onto the shoreline, leaving heaps of sand on the prophetically named Ocean Drive. Then—in that viral video moment—the water gently pulled the house loose and set it to bob upon the sea. It was not the first house—this year! that day!—nor will it be the last.

This is reality in the 21st century…

New York City Is Sinking under Its Own Weight – Scientific American

Empire: New York City from the Statue to the Brooklyn and beyond (by the Explorographer CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr).

The weight of New York City’s 1.1 million buildings is making the city slowly sink.

Home to 8.8 million people as of 2020, New York City is by far the most populous city in the U.S. And the mass of the buildings needed to support all those residents—and the work they do—really adds up. New research published on May 8 in Earth’s Future suggests that the weight of the city itself is pressing down on the land it occupies and contributing to local sea-level rise that increases flood risks…

Nearly 90% of Hanauma Bay’s beach could disappear by 2030, says UH study – Hawaii Public Radio

Hanauma Bay, Oahu (by Keith Roper CC BY 2.0 via Flickr).

A new study from the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is predicting most of Hanauma Bay’s beach will be underwater for a few days in 2030.

Researchers used models to show the impact of sea-level rise at the bay. They combined the lowest predicted rise of six inches with the island’s seasonal King Tides, when waves splash higher on the shore higher than normal.

It forecasts that 88% of the bay’s usable beach, or sandy portions, would be submerged in 2030.

“This is only during peak high tide to king tides that we experienced,” said Andrew Graham, a graduate assistant to the study.

“So it’s not going to be something that people have to worry about all the time. It’s just going to be a couple days a year, where the surf will come up to near the grass — which may increase crowding at the beach,” Graham said.

Kuʻulei Rodgers, the study’s lead researcher, said that six inches of sea-level rise can have a significant impact on the environment.

“This can equate to tens, even hundreds, of feet inland because you’re looking at the slope. So one meter of sea level rise vertically can equate to a lot more on the coastline,” Rodgers said.

The finding is part of a broader study that looks at the nature preserve’s ability to withstand damage from recreational, biological and physical uses — a concept known as carrying capacity. Researchers hope the study will help improve management and conservation efforts within the preserve.

The team has been conducting carrying capacity surveys at Hanauma Bay for the past five years…

“Dr. Beach” unveils his Top 10 Beaches in the US – CNN Travel

Beach at St. George Island State Park (by Rachel Kramer CC BY 2.0 via Flickr).

Florida’s St. George Island State Park earns the top slot. The barrier island park offers nine miles of pristine beaches along the Gulf Coast. With nature trails for biking and hiking, plus birding, fishing, boating and camping…excellent swimming and sunbathing. It’s also a prime spot for stargazing with limited light pollution and an observation platform for night sky exploration. The beach has “some of the whitest, finest sand in the world,” said (Stephen) Leatherman (aka Dr. Beach)…“The water is crystal clear and clean, far from any sources of pollution on this offshore barrier island…”

Buying out threatened oceanfront homes is not a crazy idea – Coastal Review

Collapsed house in Rodanthe on evening of Feb. 9, 2022 (courtesy National Park Service, public domain via Flickr).

The oceanfront shoreline of Rodanthe has one of the highest erosion rates on the U.S. East Coast (recently upwards of 20 feet per year). Many homes that were initially constructed well back from the beach are now at risk of constant flooding and imminent collapse. A typical response to this erosion in Dare County (and most coastal communities) would be the implementation of a beach nourishment project. It is unclear whether this is practical for Rodanthe, as the geologic setting is problematic…

Global heating has likely made El Niños and La Niñas more ‘frequent and extreme’ – the Guardian

Between Two Storms (by Peter Kurdulija CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr).

Scientists say greenhouse gases have already affected climate patterns in the Pacific that could lead to more severe weather, floods and heatwaves

Global heating has likely intensified a climate pattern in the Pacific since the 1960s that has driven extreme droughts, floods and heatwaves around the globe, according to a new study.

The scientists said they had shown for the first time that greenhouse gas emissions were likely already making El Niños and La Niñas more severe.

The shifts in ocean temperatures and atmospheric conditions in the Pacific – known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (Enso) – affect weather patterns around the globe, threatening food supplies, spreading disease and impacting societies and ecosystems.

Scientists have struggled to work out if adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere – trapping enormous amounts of heat in the ocean – has already changed Enso.

But because the system has natural swings spanning decades and actual observations have been too sparse, the scientists looked instead at more than 40 models of the climate, analysed in several ways.

Dr Wenju Cai, lead author of the study from Australia’s CSIRO science agency, said the models showed a “human fingerprint” from 1960 onwards.

This meant climate change had likely made both El Niños and La Niñas “more frequent and more extreme,” he said.

But some other scientists not involved in the study had reservations about the findings, raising concerns about the reliance on modelling.

The study has been in the works for five years, and Cai said it showed “we are experiencing a vastly different climate to that of the distant past” and would help scientists understand how Enso will change in the future “given sea surface temperatures are continuing to increase”…

French Government Will Destroy Houses of Storm Survivors – the Epoch Times

Damage caused by Cyclone Xynthia in the Port of Angoulins, France (by Thierry Llansades CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr).

The French government has decided to stay firm on its decision to destroy more than 1,500 houses in areas of “extreme danger” along the Atlantic coast. The decision follows the deaths of 53 people from storm “Xynthia,” the violent winter storm that battered Europe’s west coast on Feb. 28. Hope had risen among residents that they could save their homes following a statement made by Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux…”There could be individual, precise, and discrete situations that could need a deepened analysis…”

Professor A.T. Williams

Nelson Rangel-Buitrago, PhD Remembers Allan Thomas Williams:

Professor A.T. Williams was an accomplished educator, scientist, and mentor in the field of coastal geomorphology, conservation, and management. His unwavering dedication to teaching, research, and coastal conservation has left a lasting impact on the lives of countless students and colleagues around the world.

His legacy will live on through the countless lives he touched, the knowledge he shared, and the positive impact he had on the world of coastal geomorphology, management, and conservation.

Restoring Seabird Populations Can Help Repair the Climate – Inside Climate News

Puffins on the coast of Fife, Scotland (by Magnus Hagdorn CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr).

The number of ocean going birds has declined 70 percent since the 1950s. New research shows how projects bringing them back can also bolster ocean ecosystems that sequester carbon.

Seabirds evolved about 60 million years ago, as Earth’s continents drifted toward their current positions and modern oceans took shape. They spread across thousands of undisturbed islands in the widening seas. And as flying dinosaurs and giant omnivorous sea reptiles died out, seabirds also started filling an ecological niche as ecosystem engineers…