Category Archives: Sea Level Rise

Sea level rise to cause major economic impact in the absence of further climate action

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Aerial pictures of North Carolina’s coast, after superstorm Sandy devastated the area. Photo courtesy of: © Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines (PSDS) / WCU

Excerpts;

The Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015 by 175 parties, aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. However, the period 2010-2020 was the planet’s hottest decade on record and the long-term trend is upward. Sea level rise is one of the most severe impacts of climate change, with rising waters amplifying coastal floods, threatening coastal communities, infrastructure, and agriculture…

Read Full Article, Science Daily (01-27-2020)

Beach access is a line in the sand that needs revisiting by Florida lawmakers


A Gulf Coast of Florida community. Photograph courtesy of: © Orrin H. Pilkey and J. Andrew G. Cooper

Excerpts;

The beach belongs, by law, to the people of Florida — the part that gets wet, that is. This is because the idea of the seashore as belonging to “the public trust” is grounded in an era before anyone ever considered sunbathing or swimming in the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico.

The state’s prime attraction — 825 miles of Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Intracoastal Waterway sand and surf — is secondary only to its subtropical climate.

However, some 60 percent of Florida’s beaches front private lands, and even renourishment projects funded by taxpayers do not guarantee access to the beach.

As more beaches wash away, individual landowners are unlikely to see this loss as theirs alone…

Read Full Article, the Herald Tribune (01-25-2020)

Does new law restrict public access to Florida’s beaches? Miami Herald (04-06-2018)

Portions of beaches across FL could soon be restricted to public; ABC Action News (03-30-2018)
Beaches across Florida are about to see a major change. Stretches of sand behind condos, hotels and homes, could soon be off limits to the public…

Who owns Florida’s beaches? Private landowner rights can clash with public beach access; Naples Daily News (11-16-2017)
In a State known for plenty of beautiful shores, the clash over who owns Florida’s beaches pits residents against tourist for access to the sand…

Shifting Sands, Shifted Rights: The Beach as Contested Space; UF Law (01-28-2016)
Determining rights to Florida’s sandy beaches has presented a thorny set of issues. But for many years, the public and private interests have co-existed. Now, along with population growth, sea level rise and relentless erosion have become an uncomfortable reality. The infinite variety of scenarios that sea level rise is presenting and will present along the coast will challenge our legal system in many ways…

Column: The future of Florida’s beaches and the public’s right to know; Op Ed. by Orrin Pilkey (12-07-2015)

‘Sand wars’: the battle to replenish Florida’s beaches amid climate crisis; Guardian UK (10-25-2019)

Disappearing beaches: a line in the sand; ABC News (06-07-2016)
The forces chewing away at the nation’s beaches are only getting worse as climate change fuels rising seas. Rob Young, a coastal geologist from the program for the study of developed shorelines at Western Carolina University, said “Coastal communities have to understand that any of the solutions that they’re thinking of to hold the beach in place for a little while are all temporary solutions…”

Catalan coast and Balearic Islands have been ravaged by Storm Gloria


Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

The Catalan coast and Balearic Islands have been ravaged by Storm Gloria.

A storm surge on the east coast of Spain has swept 3km (two miles) inland, devastating rice paddies in the Ebro river delta south of Barcelona.

The mayor of the delta region, Lluís Soler, said “we’ve never had anything like this before”…

Read Full Article: Storm Gloria floods major river delta in eastern Spain; BBC News (01-22-2020)

Sea foam floods Spanish town, CNN (01-22-2020)

Interactive: See how Storm Gloria ravaged this Spanish river delta; EuroNews (01-22-2020)

Sea level rise could reshape the United States, trigger migration inland


Severe coastal erosion, Isla Vista, California. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

A new study uses machine learning to project migration patterns resulting from sea-level rise. Researchers found the impact of rising oceans will ripple across the country, beyond coastal areas at risk of flooding, as affected people move inland.

Popular relocation choices will include land-locked cities such as Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Denver and Las Vegas. The model also predicts suburban and rural areas in the Midwest will experience disproportionately large influx of people relative to their smaller local populations…

Read Full Article; Science Daily (01-22-2020)

Sea Level Rise Will Reshape U.S. Population In All 50 States; Yale E360 (04-19-2017)
Sea level rise could cause mass migrations that will affect not just the United States’ East Coast, but reshape communities deep in the heart of the country, according to new research…

Coastal property was once king. Fears of climate change are undermining its value; The WSJ (10-31-2018)
In a growing number of coastal communities, homes near the sea are appreciating more slowly than those inland. That’s bad news for people on the beach, good news for those farther away…

Coastal residents need to set aside money now to cope with future flooding; Sun Sentinel (07-10-2018)
Sea-level rise is a national economic insecurity. According to the National Ocean Service, 39 percent of the U.S. population in 2010 lived in counties that are on shorelines…

Coastal homes could see flood insurance premium going up again, and that’s only the beginning; Miami Herald (07-24-2018)

The next five years will shape sea level rise for the next 300, study says; The Washington Post (02-20-2018)
Peaking global carbon dioxide emissions as soon as possible is crucial for limiting the risks of sea-level rise, even if global warming is limited to well below 2 degrees C. A new study analyzes for the first time the sea-level legacy until 2300 within the constraints of the Paris Agreement…

Sea level rise is already eroding home values, unbeknownst to their owners; NOLA (08-21-2018)

Is Your Home At Risk Of Flooding From Rising Seas By 2050? Check This Map.; BuzzFeed News (11-13-2018)
Even if the world more aggressively tackles global warming, about 350,000 homes across the US, worth about $190 billion at today’s prices, are built on land that’s at risk of annual flooding by 2050. And if no steps are taken to curb carbon emissions, the number of at-risk homes jumps to about 385,000…

Millions of future climate refugees may need protection, U.N. committee warns

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Rising ocean and shoreline erosion at South Nags Head, North Carolina. Photo source: © Orrin Pilkey & Norma Longo

Excerpts;

Refugees fleeing their native countries due to the effects of the climate crisis in future years may not be forced to return if their lives are in danger, the United Nations Human Rights Committee said in a ruling Monday…

Read Full Article; CBS News (01-21-2020)

The global climate refugee crisis has already begun; By Orrin H. Pilkey & Keith C. Pilkey; The Hill (09-29-2018)

Greenland’s Rapid Melt Will Mean More Flooding


The Greenland Ice Sheet, seen here in Oct. 2018, is melting at a rapidly accelerating rate because of Earth’s warming climate. As the ice melts into the ocean, it raises the sea level around the world, causing flooding and other damage to coastal communities. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

By NASA;

The Greenland Ice Sheet is rapidly melting, having lost 3.8 trillion tons of ice between 1992 and 2018, a new study from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) finds. The study combined 26 independent satellite datasets to track global warming’s effect on Greenland, one of the largest ice sheets on Earth, and the ice sheet melt’s impact on rising sea levels. The findings, which forecast an approximate 3 to 5 inches (70 to 130 millimeters) of global sea level rise by 2100, are in alignment with previous worst-case projections if the average rate of Greenland’s ice loss continues.

Changes to the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are of considerable societal importance, as they directly impact global sea levels, which are a result of climate change. As glaciers and ice sheets melt, they add more water to the ocean. Increasing rates of global warming have accelerated Greenland’s ice mass loss from 25 billion tons per year in the 1990s to a current average of 234 billion tons per year. This means that Greenland’s ice is melting on average seven times faster today than it was at the beginning of the study period. The Greenland Ice Sheet holds enough water to raise the sea level by 24 feet (7.4 meters).

The paper, published Dec. 10 in Nature, is the result of an international collaboration between 89 polar scientists from 50 scientific institutions supported by NASA and ESA. The Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise, or IMBIE, used well-calibrated data from 13 NASA and ESA satellite missions to create the most accurate measurements of ice loss to date. The team found that half of the loss is tied to surface ice melting in warmer air. The rest of the loss is the result of factors such as warmer ocean temperatures, iceberg calving and the ice sheet shedding ice into the ocean more quickly.

“There are climate projections that are based on models of varying levels of complexity and observations, but they have large uncertainties. Our study is purely an observational one that tests those uncertainties. Therefore, we have irrefutable evidence that we seem to be on track with one of the most pessimistic sea level rise scenarios,” said Erik Ivins, second author and lead scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Greenland is home to the only permanent ice sheet outside Antarctica. The sheet covers three-fourths of Greenland’s land mass. But in the last 26 years, Greenland’s melting ice has added 0.4 inches (11 millimeters) to sea level rise. Its cumulative 3.8 trillion tons of melted ice is equivalent to adding the water from 120 million Olympic-size swimming pools to the ocean every year, for 26 years.

“As a rule of thumb, for every centimeter rise in global sea level, another 6 million people are exposed to coastal flooding around the planet,” said Andrew Shepherd, lead author and scientist from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. “On current trends, Greenland ice melting will cause 100 million people to be flooded each year by the end of the century, so 400 million in total due to sea level rise.”

In addition to storm surges and high tides that will increase flooding in many regions, sea level rise exacerbates events like hurricanes. Greenland’s shrinking ice sheet also speeds up global warming. The vast expanse of snow and ice helps cool down Earth by reflecting the Sun’s rays back into space. As the ice melts and retreats, the region absorbs more solar radiation, which warms the planet.

The new study will contribute to the evaluation and evolution of sea level rise models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in evaluating risks to current and future populations. The results of the study currently appear consistent with the panel’s worst-case projections for sea level rise in the next 80 years.

“The full set of consequences of future melt from the Greenland Ice Sheet remain uncertain, but even a small increase in sea level can have devastating effects on ports and coastal zones, cause destructive erosion, wetland flooding, and aquifer and agricultural soil contamination with salt,” said Ivins.

This is the third IMBIE study on ice loss as a result of global warming. IMBIE’s first report in 2012 measured both Greenland and Antarctica’s shrinking ice sheets, finding that the combined ice losses from Antarctica and Greenland had increased over time and that the ice sheets were losing three times as much ice as they were in the early 1990s. Antarctica and Greenland continue to lose ice today, and that rate of loss has accelerated since the first IMBIE study.

IMBIE is supported by the NASA Earth Science Division and the ESA Climate Change Initiative.

Original Article; NASA (12-10-2019)

Unprecedented and worrying rise in sea levels

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Indian Ocean. Photograph courtesy of: © Isabelle Duflo

Excerpts;

A new study has discovered new evidence of sea-level variability in the central Indian Ocean.

The study, which provides new details about sea levels in the past, concludes that sea levels in the central Indian Ocean have risen by close to a meter in the last two centuries…

Read Full Article; Science Daily (12-23-2019)

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…

Worst floods for 50 years bring Venice to ‘its knees’

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Acqua alta, Venice, Italy. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

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…

Read Full Article; CNN (11-13-2019)

Two people die as Venice floods at highest level in 50 years; Guardian UK (11-13-2019)
Flood levels in the lagoon city reached the second-highest level since records began in 1923 as a result of the acqua alta, which hit 1.87 metres (74in). More than 85% of Venice was flooded.
‘This is result of climate change,’ says Venice mayor, who declares state of emergency…