Huge Land Loss Predicted for Vietnam’s Mekong Delta

Huge Land Loss Predicted for Vietnam’s Mekong Delta

SOURCE: VOA News DATE: February 16, 2019 SNIP: Nearly the entire Mekong Delta in Vietnam — an area that helps feed about 200 million people — will sink underwater by the year 2100 at current rates, a new study predicts. The delta, which is home to almost 18 million people and produces half of Vietnam’s food, faces this potential humanitarian crisis largely because the heavy extraction of groundwater is causing land to sink as sea levels simultaneously rise, the study found. When combined with rates of sea-level increase because of climate change, they found that no matter what action was taken the vast low-lying delta plain will be lost. Fueled by Vietnam’s transition to a market-based economy in 1986, groundwater extraction had accelerated from practically nothing 30 years ago to the 2.5 million cubic liters now sucked out of the delta’s water table every day. The loss of water … reduced pressure in the underlying geology, causing the delta to sink. At the same time, he said, the sea level is rising at a rate of about 3 to 4 millimeters per year. Loss of naturally replenishing sediment is another critical factor in the sinking of the delta. Upstream dams on the Mekong, which flows more than 4,000 kilometers from the Tibetan plateau in China through Laos and Cambodia before discharging through the delta, had led to about a 40 percent loss in sediment flow, he said. A 2018 study by the Mekong River Commission found a catastrophic 97 percent of sediment flow to the delta would be lost by 2040 if all planned dams on the Mekong and...
Huge cavity in Antarctic glacier signals rapid decay

Huge cavity in Antarctic glacier signals rapid decay

SOURCE: NASA and Science Alert DATE: January 30, 2019 SNIP: A gigantic cavity – two-thirds the area of Manhattan and almost 1,000 feet (300 meters) tall – growing at the bottom of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is one of several disturbing discoveries reported in a new NASA-led study of the disintegrating glacier. The findings highlight the need for detailed observations of Antarctic glaciers’ undersides in calculating how fast global sea levels will rise in response to climate change. Researchers expected to find some gaps between ice and bedrock at Thwaites’ bottom where ocean water could flow in and melt the glacier from below. The size and explosive growth rate of the newfound hole, however, surprised them. It’s big enough to have contained 14 billion tons of ice, and most of that ice melted over the last three years. “[The size of] a cavity under a glacier plays an important role in melting,” said the study’s lead author, Pietro Milillo of JPL. “As more heat and water get under the glacier, it melts faster.” About the size of Florida, Thwaites Glacier is currently responsible for approximately 4 percent of global sea level rise. It holds enough ice to raise the world ocean a little over 2 feet (65 centimeters) and backstops neighboring glaciers that would raise sea levels an additional 8 feet (2.4 meters) if all the ice were...
A $3 billion problem: Miami-Dade’s septic tanks are already failing due to sea rise

A $3 billion problem: Miami-Dade’s septic tanks are already failing due to sea rise

SOURCE: Miami Herald DATE: January 10, 2019 SNIP: Miami-Dade has tens of thousands of septic tanks, and a new report reveals most are already malfunctioning — the smelly and unhealthy evidence of which often ends up in people’s yards and homes. It’s a billion-dollar problem that climate change is making worse. As sea level rise encroaches on South Florida, the Miami-Dade County study shows that thousands more residents may be at risk — and soon. By 2040, 64 percent of county septic tanks (more than 67,000) could have issues every year, affecting not only the people who rely on them for sewage treatment, but the region’s water supply and the health of anyone who wades through floodwaters. “That’s a huge deal for a developed country in 2019 to have half of the septic tanks not functioning for part of the year,” said Miami Waterkeeper Executive Director Rachel Silverstein. “That is not acceptable.” Septic tanks require a layer of dirt underneath to do the final filtration work and return the liquid waste back to the aquifer. Older rules required one foot of soil, but newer regulations call for double that. In South Florida, there’s not that much dirt between the homes above ground and the water below. Sea level rise is pushing the groundwater even higher, eating up precious space and leaving the once dry dirt soggy. Waste water doesn’t filter like it’s supposed to in soggy soil. In some cases, it comes back out, turning a front yard into a poopy swamp. High tides or heavy rains can push feces-filled water elsewhere, including King Tide floodwaters — as pointed...
Rising sea levels will claim homes around English coast, report warns

Rising sea levels will claim homes around English coast, report warns

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: October 26, 2018 SNIP: Rising sea levels will claim homes, roads and fields around the coast of England, the government’s official advisers have warned, and many people are unaware of the risks they face. The new report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said existing government plans to “hold the line” in many places – building defences to keep shores in their current position – were unaffordable for a third of the country’s coast. Instead, the CCC said, discussions about the “hard choices” needed must be started with communities that will have to move inland. The regions affected include areas with soft, eroding shores in the south and east, as well as low-lying areas in East Anglia, Lincolnshire, parts of the south-west such as the Somerset Levels, and the coast between Liverpool and Blackpool in the north-west. In England, only 45% of the coastline remains wild. These stretches of hard cliffs, shingle banks and mudflats can respond to rising sea levels in a natural way. But for the 55% that is developed, a choice between building further defences or allowing the sea in has to be...
What’s Another Way to Say ‘We’re F-cked’?

What’s Another Way to Say ‘We’re F-cked’?

SOURCE: Rolling Stone DATE: October 12, 2018 SNIP: Hurricane Michael, the third most intense storm on record to make landfall in the U.S., has caused widespread destruction, turning places like Mexico Beach, Florida, into a hellscape of broken homes and overturned cars. It will be a while before we learn the full extent of the damage — and the human suffering and death — caused by the storm’s 155 mph winds and the 14-foot storm surge that swamped the coastline. Bad as the hurricane was, imagine the damage and destruction if that storm surge had been 15 feet or so higher. And if instead of receding, that wall of water never went away. That is what we could be facing in the not-so-distant future if we don’t dramatically cut fossil-fuel pollution. If that sounds alarmist, watch this short video. In it, you’ll see a scientist named Richard Alley in a Skype discussion with students at Bard College, as well as with Eban Goodstein, director of the Graduate Programs in Sustainability at Bard. It would be just another nerdy Skype chat except Alley is talking frankly about something that few scientists have the courage to say in public: As bad as you think climate change might be in the coming decades, reality could be far worse. Within the lifetime of the students he’s talking with, Alley says, there’s some risk — small but not as small as you might hope — that the seas could rise as much as 15-to-20 feet. To judge how radical this is, compare Alley’s numbers to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate...