Category Archives: Sea Level Rise

Sinking Sundarbans: A Photo Gallery by Peter Caton, Greenpeace

Shukdev Das: “I live in Ghoramara. I lost my house due to the rising sea water. We are certain that in the near future, our island will also be under water. We don’t know where we shall live.” Captions and photos source: © Greenpeace / Peter Caton


The Sundarbans, a network of islands that spans the mouth of the Ganges delta from eastern India to Bangladesh, are sinking rapidly. The seas around the islands in the Bay of Bengal that support a unique mangrove ecosystem are rising faster than anywhere else on Earth, and the lives and livelihoods of more than 4 million residents are under threat from rising waters and a greater number of cyclones…

Read Full Article and View Photo Gallery: Sinking Sundarbans: A Slideshow, Greenpeace / © Peter Caton, The Guardian UK

Sinking Sundarbans: An exhibition of photographs by Peter Caton, Guardian UK

Featured images source: © Greenpeace/Peter Caton

As world warms, negotiators give talks another try

Playa Del Carmen, coastal erosion. Photo source: ©© Andrewarchy


The last time the world warmed, 120,000 years ago, the Cancun coastline was swamped by a 7-foot (2.1-meter) rise in sea level in a few decades. A week from now at that Mexican resort, frustrated negotiators will try again to head off a new global deluge.

The disappointment of Copenhagen, the failure of the annual U.N. conference to produce a climate agreement last year in the Danish capital, has raised doubts about whether the long-running, 194-nation talks can ever agree on a legally binding treaty for reining in global warming…

Read Full Article, Yahoo News

As Glaciers Melt, Science Seeks Data on Rising Seas

Patagonia, Glacier. Photo source: ©© Stuckincustoms


Scientists long believed that the collapse of the gigantic ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica would take thousands of years, with sea level possibly rising as little as seven inches in this century, about the same amount as in the 20th century.

But researchers have recently been startled to see big changes unfold in both Greenland and Antarctica…

Read Full Article, The New York Times

Kiribati Conference: Voices From the South Pacific – Part II

WATCH: “Kiribati: A Climate Change Reality” . A UNDP produced a film, uploaded on Youtube, 09-16-2010.

UNDP produced a film about the reality of climate change in the Pacific island of Kiribati. The film clearly shows how people’s lives are being affected right now by rising sea waters.

“Boobu Tioram, a resident of the Pacific island of Kirabati, took time out from reinforcing a seawall in front of his newly built house to speak with UNDP about what climate change has meant to his way of life.

I have moved three times, every three years I have moved, he said, standing on the beach a few metres from his home. Tioram gestured toward a point about 20 metres into the sea, and explained that his first house once stood on a spot now covered in swelling ocean waves. Each time he has moved farther inland, and each time the sea has followed.

Im not sure how long I will be in this house, Tioram continued. That depends on how strong my seawall here can withstand high tide waves.”

At only four metres above sea level, and where 100 percent of the population lives within one kilometre of the coast, the small island nation of Kiribati is one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and sea level rise. The country is responding by managing water resources better, monitoring groundwater quality and improving sanitation to reduce groundwater pollution.

The scientific research shows that by 2100 its almost certain that well have more than a metre of sea level rise, said Karen Bernard, a UNDP programme specialist in natural disaster reduction and transition. On a flat island like Kirabati that mount of sea level rise comes very far inland.

Its future is uncertain, including the question of whether it even has a future anymore. For that reason, the Government is looking for options for relocating the population.

Kiribati: A Climate Change Reality, Youtube Video (09-16-2010)

Kiribati Conference: Voices From the South Pacific/ Part II :The Ambo Declaration; from The Climate Change Portal Of The President Of Kiribati
Kiribati’s Tarawa Climate Change Conference (TCCC) ended by giving birth to the Ambo Declaration, a resolution of grave concern on the climate crisis calling for an immediate action on climate change funds.

The Ambo Declaration, Learn More

Kiribati Conference: Voices from the South Pacific (I)

Kiribati Conference: Voices From the South Pacific

Old pier, Kanton island. Kanton is the largest, northernmost island of the Phoenix Islands, in the Republic of Kiribati. Photo source: ©© Naomi


Located and spread across the central Pacific, Kiribati, a low-lying chain of islands, is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, and it is already feeling some of the impacts.

About 40 officials from around the world have flown to the tiny atoll nation of Kiribati to take a look at the immediate impact climate change is having on the Pacific nation…

Read Full Article, The Sydney Morning Herald

The Guardian, UK

Bangladesh: Finding Sustainable Ways to Cope with Sea Level Rise

Floating gardens in the Wetland Research and Training Centre (WRTC) run by the Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies. Captions and Photo source: ©© Aarjan Dixit, World Resources Institute

By IRIN, Human News and Analysis

As swollen monsoon rivers and rising sea levels threaten to engulf more land across Bangladesh, NGOs are training thousands of farmers in traditional soil-less farming on water.

Agriculture accounts for almost a quarter of Bangladesh’s gross domestic product and provides work for 62 percent of the labour force.

Yet in a country frequently flooded and recognized as one of the most vulnerable to climate change, floating vegetable beds have become a fruitful farming alternative. The process is similar to hydroponics, which uses a non-biological growing material like gravel, whereas floating farms use beds made of water hyacinth, bamboo and other aquatic plants.

“The productivity of this farming system is 10 times higher than traditional land-based agricultural production in the southeast of Bangladesh,” said Papon Deb, project manager for the Wetland Resource Development Society (WRDS).

WRDS is one of several NGOs, along with CARE, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and Practical Action, working around the country to train thousands of farmers.

Bangladesh has had floating farms for hundreds of years, primarily in low-lying areas in the south where land is submerged most of the year.

“Soil-less agriculture evolved through people’s initiative for adaptation to an adverse environment,” said A.H.M. Rezaul Haq, a WRDS researcher. “It has been a part of the indigenous form of cultivation since our forefathers.”

The plant bed, built using several layers of water hyacinth and bamboo, is typically 15-50m in length, 1.5-2m wide and 0.6-0.9m thick. Semi-decomposed aquatic plants are then added to the mix and left to sit for several days before it is ready to be seeded. The beds can be prepared in any depth of water. Farmers can stand on some of them or manoeuvre around them in boats.

The floating beds are anchored to prevent them from drifting out into larger bodies of water, and covered in netting to keep out ducks and other fowl that might eat the crops, said Faruk Ul Islam, head of organizational development for Practical Action, which is training farmers in 600 villages in the north on this practice. Some farmers have to swim out to retrieve beds that have strayed into open water.

Many villagers use the previous year’s decomposed bed as organic fertilizer. These new beds are kept intact thanks to bamboo poles on the sides.

Floating Farms
Floating farms are 10 times more productive than land-based farms, experts say.Wetland Resource Development Society. Photo Source: IRIN

Islam says the floating garden set-up is virtually free, with water and water hyacinth widely available in the waters of Bangladesh. The cost of setting up the floating bed for the growing season might be as little as US$3 for seeds and labour, or as much as $9 if a farmer has to also buy bamboo and netting.

Haq’s team said villagers in Chandra have grown 23 different types of vegetable and five types of spices on floating beds, including okra, cucumbers, bitter gourds, eggplants, beans, tomatoes, cauliflowers, turnips, radishes, carrots, ginger and garlic.

Several research and development organizations are now working with thousands of farmers across the country to implement floating garden projects. While the practice is common in the south, where huge floating farms look like land masses from the air, development workers are now teaching people in northern areas more recently prone to flooding.

The southwestern village of Chandra long ago famed for its mango, jackfruit and dates, is one area where water levels rise more than two metres during the monsoon rains and remain high for 2-3 months.

Now, with this project, there are over 1,000 villagers involved and fewer people are migrating to the city.

Original Article: Spreading the floating farms tradition, Bangladesh, IRIN

Archaeological Sites and Rising Seas: The Channel Islands’ Region

The Channel Islands Region, California.
Photo Source: NASA

Excerpt from the Smithsonian Institution

Should global warming cause sea levels to rise as predicted in coming decades, thousands of archaeological sites in coastal areas around the world will be lost to erosion. With no hope of saving all of these sites, archaeologists Torben Rick from the Smithsonian Institution, Leslie Reeder of Southern Methodist University, and Jon Erlandson of the University of Oregon have issued a call to action for scientists to assess the sites most at risk.

Writing in the Journal of Coastal Conservation and using California’s Santa Barbara Channel as a case study, the researchers illustrate how quantifiable factors such as historical rates of shoreline change, wave action, coastal slope and shoreline geomorphology can be used to develop a scientifically sound way of measuring the vulnerability of individual archaeological sites. They then propose developing an index of the sites most at risk so informed decisions can be made about how to preserve or salvage them.

Urban development, the researchers point out, also is a significant threat to the loss of archaeological data. Coastlines have long been magnets of human settlement and contain a rich array of ancient archaeological sites, many of which have never been excavated. Urban development is projected to remain high in coastal areas, representing a significant danger to undisturbed sites.

Thousands of archaeological sites, from large villages and workshops to fragmented shell middens and lithic scatters, are perched on the shorelines and sea cliffs of the Santa Barbara Channel, the researchers point out.

Santa Rosa, Channel Islands
Santa Barbara Channel Islands, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz.
Photo Source: NASA

The archaeological record is never static, and the materials left behind by one generation are altered by the people and environment of the next. However, increasing threats from modern urban development, sea level rise and global warming are poised to increase this steady pattern of alteration and destruction.

The vulnerability of sites in the Santa Barbara Channel is generally lower than sites located along more open, more gently sloped or unstable coastlines, such as the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of North America.

Original Article

Our disappearing past: a GIS analysis of the vulnerability of coastal archaeological resources in California’s Santa Barbara Channel region. Journal of Coastal Conservation

Native artifacts being washed away by rising surf: The Channel Islands, California; AP /NBC

Channel Islands Artifacts
Chumash Indians of the Channel Islands’ artifacts. To the left are bone tools and dagger. The black and white piece is a bone piece laden with asphaltum and shell beads, which may create a better grip. Along the top are different kinds of shell beads. Photo Source: Travis S, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History


Perched on the edge of this wind-swept Southern California island, archaeologist Jon Erlandson watches helplessly as 6,600 years of human culture, and a good chunk of his career, is swallowed by the Pacific surf.

It was not long ago that this tip of land on the northwest coast cradling an ancient Chumash Indian village stretched out to sea. But years of storm surge and roiling waves have taken a toll. The tipping point came last year when a huge piece broke off, drowning remnants of discarded abalone, mussel and other shellfish that held clues to an ancient human diet.

“There’s an enormous amount of history that’s washing into the sea every year,” Erlandson said matter-of-factly during a recent hike. “We literally can’t keep up.”

The sea has long lashed at the Channel Islands, also known as the North American Galapagos, stripping away beaches, slicing off cliff faces and nibbling at hundreds, perhaps thousands, of cultural relics.

Past coastal erosion for the most part was a natural phenomenon, but the problem is feared to grow worse with human-caused global warming and higher sea levels.

In 2005, the U.S. Geological Survey found that half of the 250 miles of shoreline studied on the Channel Islands were vulnerable to sea level rise. The most at-risk were the San Miguel and Santa Rosa coasts, home to thousands of archaeological relics from house pits to trash heaps to random scatters of stone anvils and burned rocks…