Tag Archives: Sea Level Rise

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)

In the Afro-Caribbean heart of Puerto Rico, locals fight erosion


Loizá, Puerto Rico. Photo source: ©© Scott Allen

Excerpts;

Loíza, Puerto Rico, is filled with palm trees, unassuming bars, bomba music, beautiful beaches — and strong-willed locals who refuse to be forgotten.

The waves crashed loudly on the collapsed ruins of the Paseo del Atlántico, a walkway that once partially protected residents here from the volatile ocean. Erosion along this northernmost coast of Puerto Rico, nearly 20 miles east of San Juan, precipitated the promenade’s destruction for more than a decade and, in 2012, it finally fell into the Atlantic, exposing the Parcelas Suárez neighborhood to the water’s edge.

“The sea demands the space that we take away,” says Irizarry, sitting before an eroding Loíza beach…

Read Full Article, USA Today (02-06-2020)

“The Beaches Are Moving,” A Video featuring Orrin Pilkey, PhD
World famous coastal geologist Orrin H. Pilkey takes us to the beach and explains why erosion has become a problem…

“Seawalls Kill Beaches,” Open Letters by Warner Chabot And Rob Young, (10-03-2014)

The Negative Impacts Of Groins, (02-12-2009)
The negative impact of groins on downdrift shorelines is well understood. When a groin works as intended, sand moving along the beach in the so-called downdrift direction is trapped on the updrift side of the groin, causing a sand deficit and increasing erosion rates on the downdrift side. This well-documented and unquestioned impact is widely cited in the engineering and geologic literature.

Seawalls: Ecological effects of coastal armoring in soft sediment environments; Science Daily (07-24-2017)
For nearly a century, America’s coasts — particularly those with large urban populations — have been armored with human made structures such as seawalls. These structures essentially draw a line in the sand that constrains the ability of the shoreline to respond to changes in sea level and other dynamic coastal processes…

Rethinking Living Shorelines, By Orrin H. Pilkey, Rob Young, Norma Longo, and Andy Coburn;Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines / Western Carolina University, March 1, 2012, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University
In response to the detrimental environmental impacts caused by traditional erosion control structures, environmental groups, state and federal resource management agencies, now advocate an approach known as “Living Shorelines”that embraces the use of natural habitat elements such as indigenous vegetation, to stabilize and protect eroding shorelines.

Beach rebuilding efforts won’t stave off climate change impacts forever; Guardian UK (09-20-2018)

Let’s end war with ocean, Op-Ed by Orrin H. Pilkey
The immediate future most certainly holds more miles of sandbags, resulting in more narrowed and ugly beaches.But this trend can be halted and reversed. Now is the time to make peace with the ocean.The time is now to stop sandbagging, both physically with no more shore-hardening structures, and politically with no more exceptions to the intent of the rules, no more undermining existing legislation, and a return to enforcement…

Scientists alarmed to discover warm water at “vital point” beneath Antarctica’s “doomsday glacier”


Antarctica. Photo courtesy of: © Denis Delestrac.
There are two primary causes of global mean sea level rise — added water from melting ice sheets and glaciers, and the expansion of sea water as it warms. The melting of Antarctica’s ice sheet is currently responsible for 20-25% of global sea level rise. Captions: NASA

Excerpts;

Scientists have found warm water beneath Antarctica’s “doomsday glacier,” a nickname used because it is one of Antarctica’s fastest melting glaciers.

While researchers have observed the recession of the Thwaites Glacier for a decade, this marks the first time they detected the presence of warm water – found at a “vital point” beneath the glacier…

Read Full Article, CBS News (02-01-2020)

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

coastal-flooding
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)