Category Archives: Sea Level Rise News

20,000 deaths since 1999: New report reveals deadly impact of extreme weather in France

xynthia-mayor-official
La Faute sur Mer’s mayor (left) and Vendée’s senator (right) in front of an aerial view of the 2 inundated towns of L’Aiguillon and La Faute sur Mer, Vendée, France. Photo source: ©© Sénat

Excerpts;

France is one of the most exposed countries in the world to the risks of extreme weather, a new report has found, with nearly 20,000 deaths linked to heatwaves, floods and storms in the last 20 years.

The report from the global climate charity Germanwatch ranked 183 countries around the world according to how exposed they are to extreme weather events – such as heatwaves, storms and flooding – linked to climate change.

France was ranked in the top 20 most exposed countries in the world, in the same bracket as India and Madagascar.The worst affected countries in the world were Puerto Rico, Honduras, Myanmar and Haiti…

Read Full Article; The Local Fr (12-14-2019)

À La Faute-sur-Mer, le temps n’a pas effacé le cauchemar de la tempête Xynthia; Le Figaro (02-21-2020)
Ten years after Xynthia storm devastated France, scars still remain.

La Faute-sur-Mer and l’Aiguillon-sur-Mer beaches, Vendée, France; By Claire Le Guern (03-2010)
The very last day of February 2010. It is 4:00 am. Howling winds, whipping rains, infuriated seas, and eight meter high (26 feet) crashing waves, are muffling the desperate cries for help…4:00 am… Twenty nine human lives are being swept away, drowned in the frigid and salty ocean waters. They were in their sleep, in their beds, in the comfort of their home. They did not understand, they could not react, most of them too old, too frail, or much too little to run for safety and climb on the rooftops, like most of the survivors did…
When daylight unveiled the disaster, French Prime Minister François Fillon held an emergency cabinet meeting and afterward called the storm a “national catastrophe.” French President Nicolas Sarkhozy, declared: “We have to find out how families in France in the 21st-century can be surprised in their sleep and drowned in their own houses.” Mr. Sarkozy added, “We have to shed light as urgently as possible on this unacceptable and incomprehensible tragedy.”
As much as this tragedy is utterly unacceptable, it is all too comprehensible and sadly, previously announced by warnings from many scientists, locals, and even more relevantly by an official 2008 report from the Vendée Equipment Department, DDE. The risks of marine submersion were known to the Vendée DDE, which strongly addressed and questioned coastal safety, citing in particular the fragile sea walls in L’Aiguillon-sur-Mer and La Faute-sur-Mer, as well as their existing location and development in flood-prone areas. “There is no doubt about the vulnerability of the Vendée coast to marine submersion”…

A French beach cleared of homes shows NC the way; By Orrin H. Pilkey; News Observer (02-24-2019)

Developers don’t get it: climate change means we need to retreat from the coast, Guardian UK (15-03-2016)
It is preposterous to build in areas that are bound to flood. So why are real estate companies still doing it?..

Climate change is coming for the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.


The Tidal Basin, Washington, DC. Photo source: Wikimedia

Excerpts;

The Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., overlooks the Tidal Basin, a man-made body of water surrounded by cherry trees. But at high tide, people are forced off parts of the path. Twice a day, the Tidal Basin floods and water spills onto the walkway.

One problem is that the land is sinking. But as the climate warms, sea levels are also rising. And the flooding gets even worse during extreme storms, which are growing more common…

Read Full Article; Yale Connections Climate (02-17-2020)

Antarctic temperature rises above 20C for first time on record


Concave Iceberg Gerlache Strait, Antarctica. “This melting iceberg probably calved from a glacier, as evidenced by bands of dark color which are sediment the glacier picked up while moving down the steep slopes of the Antarctic Peninsula. An iceberg containing sediment will absorb heat because of less reflectivity and thus will melt faster. Global warming increases the rate of glacier calving and the overall degradation of ice sheets, and also contributes to an acceleration in the rate of sea level rise.” Captions and Photo courtesy of: © Norma J. Longo

Excerpts;

The Antarctic has registered a temperature of more than 20C (68F) for the first time on record, prompting fears of climate instability in the world’s greatest repository of ice.

Scientists describe 20.75C logged at Seymour Island as ‘incredible and abnormal’…

Read Full Article; Guardian UK (02-13-2020)

Temperature in Antarctica soars to near 70 degrees, appearing to top record; The Washington Post (02-13-2020)
The temperature beats a milestone set days earlier by nearly 5 degrees…

Antarctica logs highest temperature on record of 18.3C; BBC News (02-07-2020)
A record high temperature of 18.3C (64.9F) has been logged on the continent of Antarctica. The temperature was recorded in the Antarctic Peninsula, on the continent’s north-west tip – one of the fastest-warming regions on earth…

As climate risks worsen, U.S. flood buyouts fail to meet the need


North Carolina. Photograph courtesy of: © William Neal, Orrin Pilkey & Norma Longo.

Excerpts;

The U.S. approach to buying out properties vulnerable to flooding is rife with uncertainty and delays. Now, as climate change drives more extreme coastal storms and precipitation events, the system must undergo a drastic overhaul or risk stranding millions in flood-prone homes.

Buyouts are just one piece of the managed retreat puzzle, but they’re an essential one. If we aren’t able to provide timely and equitable assistance to those who need it to move out of harm’s way, then we don’t have managed retreat – it’s more similar to a domestic refugee crisis…

Read Full Article; Yale E360 (01-23-2020)

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)

Coastal policy needs dose of reality; Op Ed by Orrin Pilkey; Star News Online (02-02-2017)

Who will pay for the huge costs of holding back rising seas? Yale E360 (08-05-2019)

Coastal Warning: An Unwelcome Messenger on the Risks of Rising Seas; By Orrin H. Pilkey, Yale E360 (12-06-2018)

Surrendering to rising seas; Scientific American (08-2018)
Coastal communities struggling to adapt to climate change are beginning to do what was once unthinkable: retreat…

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

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…

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…

The only answer to rising seas is to retreat; By Orrin H. Pilkey & Keith C. Pilkey; The News & Observer (10-18-2017)
Except for the timing, there is no controversy among scientists regarding sea level rise. Defending the coast and holding the shoreline in place ultimately will be futile. With a three-foot or a six-foot sea level rise, we will retreat, probably beginning within the next 50 years…

Rising seas already overwhelm the Bay Area. Time is running out for California to act


Butterfly Beach, California. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care
“King tide” is the informal term generally used to describe an exceptionally high tide, which most often occurs when the Moon and the Sun are aligned and their gravitational pull on the Earth is at its strongest.NASA, AeroTech News

Excerpts;

In Foster City, where the ‘king tide’ over the weekend reached 9 feet, the answer is a taller levee, costing $90 million. The plan comes as legislators warn that California is running out of time to prepare for sea level rise…

Read Full Article; LA Times (02-11-2020)

The California coast is disappearing under the rising sea. Our choices are grim; LA Times (07-07-2019)

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

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…

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…

The only answer to rising seas is to retreat; By Orrin H. Pilkey & Keith C. Pilkey; The News & Observer (10-18-2017)
Except for the timing, there is no controversy among scientists regarding sea level rise. Defending the coast and holding the shoreline in place ultimately will be futile. With a three-foot or a six-foot sea level rise, we will retreat, probably beginning within the next 50 years…

Surrendering to rising seas; Scientific American (08-2018)
Coastal communities struggling to adapt to climate change are beginning to do what was once unthinkable: retreat…

Californians Fight Over Whether Coast Should Be Rugged or Refined, The New York Times (02-09-2016)

California prepares policy for coastal ‘retreat’; E & E News (12-07-2018)
Oceanfront homes could be demolished along California’s coastline under a groundbreaking proposal to preserve the state’s made-for-movies beaches before they’re destroyed by rising seawater. The California Coastal Commission plans to release guidance early next year for dealing with sea-level rise in residential areas…

A huge iceberg just broke off West Antarctica’s most endangered glacier


Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica is known for dispensing icebergs into the Amundsen Sea, but the frequency of such events appears to be on the rise.Calving that used to happen about every six years has become a near-annual event. Captions and image source: NASA/Earth Observatory

Excerpts;

On the ice-covered edge of a remote West Antarctic bay, the continent’s most imperiled glaciers threaten to redraw Earth’s coastlines.

Pine Island Glacier and its neighbor Thwaites Glacier are the gateway to a massive cache of frozen water, one that would raise global sea levels by four feet if it were all to spill into the sea. And that gateway is shattering before our eyes…

Read Full Article; National Geographic (02-11-2020)

Scientists alarmed to discover warm water at “vital point” beneath Antarctica’s “doomsday glacier”; CBS News (02-01-2020)
Scientists have found for the first time, warm water beneath Antarctica’s “doomsday glacier,” a nickname used because it is one of Antarctica’s fastest melting glaciers…

The New Video of One of the Scariest Places on Earth, The Atlantic (01-30-2020)
For the first time, scientists have a clear view of the line where the giant Thwaites Glacier is leaking water into the ocean…

New research supports previous studies on global sea level rise


Coastal erosion, California. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

A new study has demonstrated that the global sea level rise has accelerated over the past four decades. In other words, as a result of global warming, the oceans are rising faster every year…

Read Full Article, Phys Org (02-10-2020)

Coastal Warning: An Unwelcome Messenger on the Risks of Rising Seas; By Orrin H. Pilkey, Yale E360 (12-06-2018)

Arctic ice melt is changing ocean currents


Arctic sea ice was photographed in 2011 during NASA’s ICESCAPE mission, or “Impacts of Climate on Ecosystems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment,” a shipborne investigation to study how changing conditions in the Arctic affect the ocean’s chemistry and ecosystems. The bulk of the research took place in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in summer 2010 and 2011. Credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen

By NASA;

A major ocean current in the Arctic is faster and more turbulent as a result of rapid sea ice melt, a new study from NASA shows. The current is part of a delicate Arctic environment that is now flooded with fresh water, an effect of human-caused climate change.

Using 12 years of satellite data, scientists have measured how this circular current, called the Beaufort Gyre, has precariously balanced an influx of unprecedented amounts of cold, fresh water — a change that could alter the currents in the Atlantic Ocean and cool the climate of Western Europe.

The Beaufort Gyre keeps the polar environment in equilibrium by storing fresh water near the surface of the ocean. Wind blows the gyre in a clockwise direction around the western Arctic Ocean, north of Canada and Alaska, where it naturally collects fresh water from glacial melt, river runoff and precipitation. This fresh water is important in the Arctic in part because it floats above the warmer, salty water and helps to protect the sea ice from melting, which in turn helps regulate Earth’s climate. The gyre then slowly releases this fresh water into the Atlantic Ocean over a period of decades, allowing the Atlantic Ocean currents to carry it away in small amounts.

But the since the 1990s, the gyre has accumulated a large amount of fresh water — 1,920 cubic miles (8,000 cubic kilometers) — or almost twice the volume of Lake Michigan. The new study, published in Nature Communications, found that the cause of this gain in freshwater concentration is the loss of sea ice in summer and autumn. This decades-long decline of the Arctic’s summertime sea ice coverhas left the Beaufort Gyre more exposed to the wind, which spins the gyre faster and traps the fresh water in its current.

Persistent westerly winds have also dragged the current in one direction for over 20 years, increasing the speed and size of the clockwise current and preventing the fresh water from leaving the Arctic Ocean. This decades-long western wind is unusual for the region, where previously, the winds changed direction every five to seven years.

Scientists have been keeping an eye on the Beaufort Gyre in case the wind changes direction again. If the direction were to change, the wind would reverse the current, pulling it counterclockwise and releasing the water it has accumulated all at once.

“If the Beaufort Gyre were to release the excess fresh water into the Atlantic Ocean, it could potentially slow down its circulation. And that would have hemisphere-wide implications for the climate, especially in Western Europe,” said Tom Armitage, lead author of the study and polar scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Fresh water released from the Arctic Ocean to the North Atlantic can change the density of surface waters. Normally, water from the Arctic loses heat and moisture to the atmosphere and sinks to the bottom of the ocean, where it drives water from the north Atlantic Ocean down to the tropics like a conveyor belt.

This important current is called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and helps regulate the planet’s climate by carrying heat from the tropically-warmed water to northern latitudes like Europe and North America. If slowed enough, it could negatively impact marine life and the communities that depend it.

“We don’t expect a shutting down of the Gulf Stream, but we do expect impacts. That’s why we’re monitoring the Beaufort Gyre so closely,” said Alek Petty, a co-author on the paper and polar scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The study also found that, although the Beaufort Gyre is out of balance because of the added energy from the wind, the current expels that excess energy by forming small, circular eddies of water. While the increased turbulence has helped keep the system balanced, it has the potential to lead to further ice melt because it mixes layers of cold, fresh water with relatively warm, salt water below. The melting ice could, in turn, lead to changes in how nutrients and organic material in the ocean are mixed, significantly affecting the food chain and wildlife in the Arctic. The results reveal a delicate balance between wind and ocean as the sea ice pack recedes under climate change.

“What this study is showing is that the loss of sea ice has really important impacts on our climate system that we’re only just discovering,” said Petty.

Original Article, NASA (02-06-2020)