The first successful English colony in America was at Jamestown, Va., a swampy island in the Chesapeake Bay. The colony endured for almost a century, and remnants of the place still exist. You can go there and see the ruins. You can walk where Capt. John Smith and Pocahontas walked.
But Jamestown is now threatened by rising sea levels that scientists say could submerge the island by century’s end.
Well worth clicking through. I once argued with a history prof that thousands of historic sites were at risk from climate change. She thought it was too extreme…
Crews tear down iconic coaster destroyed by Sandy via NBCNews
- John Moore / Getty Images
- Lucas Jackson / Reuters
- Mark Wilson / Getty Images
The Guardian has a multi-part, video heavy media set on climate refugees in America. I’d argue that the title “first” is a misnomer and would point to the coastal communities in Texas, New Orleans, and the Carolinas who’ve been retreating from the coasts for several years. But, the point is made - that sea-level rise and coastal erosion is much more aggressive than at anytime in history. Thus, tens of thousands of people are at immediate risk, especially the poor.
The above is one minute.
The people of Newtok, on the west coast of Alaska and about 400 miles south of the Bering Strait that separates the state from Russia, are living a slow-motion disaster that will end, very possibly within the next five years, with the entire village being washed away.
The Ninglick River coils around Newtok on three sides before emptying into the Bering Sea. It has steadily been eating away at the land, carrying off 100ft or more some years, in a process moving at unusual speed because of climate change. Eventually all of the villagers will have to leave, becoming America’s first climate change refugees.
Life on the Edge
Jerome, Idaho, seems like an neat, ordinary city—until you approach the parts of town where many of its 10,000 inhabitants live on the edge, in all senses of the word.
Unregulated and unzoned houses teeter on the precipice of the Snake River Canyon, which drops sheerly down below to a sleek, twisting river 1700 km long, formed by volcanic activity of the Yellowstone hotspot. Native Americans lived on its banks for thousands of years before European inhabitants began to cause the landscape to change—creating the stark contrast of this photograph: the idyllically civilised set against the apocalyptically wild.
If you enjoy the coast, know about your local heritage – or want to explore it further, you could make a real contribution to a national project which is being run by The SCAPE Trust and the University of St Andrews.
The Scotland’s Coastal Heritage at Risk project is looking for volunteers who can visit threatened coastal archaeological and historical sites in their local areas to take photographs, record their current condition and contribute information to a national database of coastal archaeological sites.
Of the 1,000 archaeological sites around Scotland short-listed as the highest priority for action because of their importance and risk of loss as a result of erosion, nearly a quarter are in Orkney. Read more.
Would love to be in Scotland to help out.
Florida Keys looking very fragile, via Col Chris Hadfield on the ISS.
Landslide! Home swallowed, more at risk
A man barely escaped his home before it tumbled down a hill in a landslide in Washington state.
NBC’s Miguel Almaguer has the dramatic video on TODAY.
Beach erosion, rain, geology, and poor city planning conspired to this accident. We will be hearing a lot more of these stories as the coasts get chewed away by rising seas. (Whidbey Island is very beautiful, by the way. My exes’ mother lived in the oldest house in Coupeville for several years. Great salmon fishing, too.).
An ancient Cypress forest was discovered at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Not a hoax. Hurricane Katrina stirred up the sand on the bottom of the Gulf, exposing a 50,000 year old forest.
For thousands of years, sand protected the ancient forest from rotting. Now that the sand has been removed, the trees are being torn apart by critters, fish, and exposure to water.
Here’s a video, which I can’t embed because tumblr hasn’t completely figured out How to Internet: Underwater Forest.
The forest is about 10 miles off the coast of Alabama in the Gulf of Mexico and lies under 60 feet of water (about the height of a 6 story building). Researchers say you can see tree rings, and even sap when the wood is cut with a saw. In fact, they say it even smells like freshly cut Cypress.
The trees apparently lived along a river.
Why is there a forest at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico? Sea level rise from melting glaciers. Sea level rise chewed away and drowned millions of miles of coasts around the world after the last Ice Age, but I’ll leave that for you to google and for future posts!
Climate change impact on Nor’easters: an increased storm surge threat
Sea level at the Boston tide gauge has risen about a foot (.25 meters) since records began in 1921. Most of that rise is due to the expansion of ocean waters due to global warming, plus increased melting from glaciers and icecaps.
According to an excellent analysis by Andrew Freedman of Climate Central, continued sea level rise in Boston will increase the odds of a 1-in-100 year coastal storm surge flood by a factor of 2.5 by the year 2030. Even given the low end of sea level rise scenarios, and without assuming any changes in storms, 1-in-10-year coastal flooding events in the Northeast could triple by 2100, occurring roughly once every 3 years, simply in response to higher sea levels (Tebaldi et al. 2012).
Nemo arrives just days after a report the nonprofit Boston Harbor Alliance warned of the region’s growing vulnerability to such storm surge events. The report found that coastal flooding of 5 feet above the current average high tide—a 1-in-100 year flood—would inundate 6.6 percent of the city of Boston.
At 7.5 feet above the current average high tide, more than 30 percent of Boston could be flooded, the study found. Boston has gotten lucky two storms in row now—both Hurricane Sandy (storm surge of 4.57’) and Winter Storm Nemo (storm surge of 4.21’) brought their peak surge near low tide, so the water level during these storms did not make the top-ten list, even though these were two of the four highest storm surges ever measured in Boston.
Mr. Burt comments, “it is a bit unsettling that two of the most significant storms in the past 300 years to strike the northeastern quadrant of the U.S. have occurred within just four months from one another.”
Rising sea levels are already making coastal living at low elevations an increasingly precarious proposition in the Northeast. If Sandy and Nemo are harbingers of a new era of stronger storms for the Northeast U.S., the double-whammy combination of bigger storm surges riding in on higher sea levels will make abandoning higher-risk portions of the coast a necessity.
Via Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog | Weather Underground
Most resorts combat ongoing sea level rise by adding more sand to make up for the erosion, but it’s not a permanent solution.
Tech-laden study shows that cutting forests increases runoff that kills corals. Apparently common sense still needs scientific evidence.
A team of international scientists has found that soil erosion, land degradation, and climate change pose a mounting threat to coastal reefs and their ecosystems in the western Indian Ocean.
The study examined sediment and freshwater discharge over recent decades in two catchments in Madagascar’s Antongil Bay and the island nation’s Great Barrier Reef of Tulear, and the climatic processes that drive them.
Deforestation is often linked with degradation of terrestrial ecosystems but until now no study has revealed its impact on adjacent coral reefs.
“Results from the study suggest that changes in land use - primarily the removal of forests - and Madagascar’s increased population density are the key drivers of long-term reef sedimentation trends but that these are slow processes,” said study co-leader Dr Jens Zinke, of UWA’s Oceans Institute.
Dr Zinke said those factors combined with climate changes - including hinterland rainfall, temperature and El Niño-Southern Oscillation - to influence the amount of sediment transported through river run-off, which is subsequently deposited in coastal waters and reflected in elevated geochemical indicators in corals.
“This is the first direct evidence that catchment activity in Madagascar through deforestation and land use practices affects near-shore reef ecosystems,” Dr Zinke said. “Just as importantly, these results reinforce the need to incorporate terrestrial land-use management in the design of coral reef protection networks in the region.”
“When water quality deteriorates, we see deterioration of important habitats, including coral reefs that are home to many species of reef fish, crustaceans and marine mammals.”
The study, Linking coral river runoff proxies with climate variability, hydrology and land-use in Madagascar catchments, is published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin.
SHETLAND’S pre-Christmas storms have revealed remains of an iron age building and a human skeleton believed to be 2,000 years old.
Archaeologists said a structure was briefly exposed at Channerwick before being buried again by a rockfall over the festive period.
Before it disappeared from view, police officers and archaeologists were able to investigate the site and take a bone sample for radiocarbon dating.
Shetland Amenity Trust assistant archaeologist Chris Dyer said: “The skeleton, initially reported by a local resident, looked as if it were contemporary with the Iron Age remains.
“The original burial now lies under several tons of fallen bank and the Iron Age structures have also disappeared from view.”
County archaeologist Val Turner added that during the investigation she and freelance colleague Samantha Dennis discovered evidence of at least one, and possibly two other burials. Read more.
So interesting what storms and weather can bring.
Louisiana cemeteries sinking, washing away. (Click for video). Some of the cemeteries were built above sea level, but marshy soils, tough hurricanes, and sea level rise are destroying the land.
Eleven cemeteries in Jefferson Parish have repeatedly flooded since Hurricane Katrina. In Lafourche, Terrebonne and Plaquemines parishes, more than a dozen others have succumbed to tidal surge. Some have more than 300 gravesites.
Officials say not much can be done to save the cemeteries or the sinking communities that surround them, though some towns have tried pouring concrete slabs to build up the burial sites and hold headstones in place. They’ve also anchored above-ground caskets to the slabs to keep them from floating off. USAToday
These types of stories are going to keep popping up in the next few years. Cemeteries, historic properties, naval yards, ports, bridge pilings, hotels, etc., anything close to the soft coastlines are going to get chewed up. And journalists will swarm to grab stories of nostalgia - “Mah grammie was buried in thar,” “I had mah first kiss in that thar light house,” “This hotel has been in operation since 1923. Important to the economy, you know. Now it’s lost to the sea.”
We know these things are going to happen. So who should pay to repair these structures?
Btw dear readers, I’m really (teeth-grindingly) annoyed I couldn’t embed this video from USA Today. They’re a great paper, way underrated imo. I’d share more vidoes and news from them, but their IT is out of touch. Does anyone know how to grab the embed code from the page script? Usually I can scrape the video code, but not with these guys. The url is here if you want to mess with it. Hit me up if you can help me!
“60 feet” - That’s the amount of beach lost in parts of Martha’s Vineyard island due to Hurricane Sandy. On the map, above, you can see Martha’s Vineyard middle right, just below the “hook” known as Cape Cod. Note the island’s proximity to Boston, Providence, and Manhattan.
The “vinyud” as we Yankees call it, is a beautiful place with fantastic restaurants and beaches. Ultimately, though, it’s a play ground for the very wealthy. Indeed, many Presidents (among other fancy people) regularly vacationed here, including John Adams(!), Ulysses S. Grant, Chester Arthur, John F. Kennedy (actually, the Kennedys have a ton of property here), Bill Clinton, and, yep, Barack Obama. (Mitt Romney, by the way, has two of his six homes in Massachusetts).
One private home worth around $8 million hired engineers, negotiated with neighbors, and won approval from the town for an emergency permit to build a temporary beach erosion protection system.
The system is interesting and I haven’t heard about it until today. It’s made of coconut fiber, called the “Coir Log Coastal Bank Protection System.” Here are some pictures of Coir Logs being installed on a private beach in Wellfleet, MA.
The emergency plan calls for the installation of a Coir Log Coastal Bank Protection System which will “hopefully temporarily slow down” the rate of erosion, Mr. Sourati said. “It’s not a permanent solution, but it’s going to give us some time to think about other solutions.” Via
A great solution, but it’s just for one house. What about the roads, hotels, schools, research facilities, and countless thousands of homes impacted by sea level rise and aggressive beach erosion? What can be done for an entire coast line, which has already seen a foot of sea level rise?
My friend just took this photo of a wave crashing over her neighbor’s house! Warwick, Rhode Island.