Solomon Islands disappearing beneath rising sea at ‘unprecedented’ rate

Solomon Islands disappearing beneath rising sea at ‘unprecedented’ rate

SOURCE: 60 Minutes Digital and 9News DATE: May 12, 2019 SNIP: With crystal clear blue waters and white sandy beaches, the Solomon Islands are one of the most stunning and remote parts of the Pacific Ocean. But despite the archipelago’s isolation, it’s no stranger to the unforgiving impacts of climate change: the island paradise is drowning. In the past 20 years, sea levels in the Solomon Islands have risen over 15 centimetres. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s led to many islands losing critical land mass. Others have disappeared completely. Sceptics say the vanishing islands occur as a result of natural erosion, but Bartlett reports that’s not the case. The remnants of 300-year-old trees which once stood tall, but are now all but drowning, prove the point. Renowned marine ecologist Dr Simon Albert agrees. He’s been studying the effects of climate change and sea level rises in the Solomon Islands for years and has seen the devastating impact of climate change on the small nation. “It’s just mind-blowing really,” he says. “These are permanent islands that have been on these reef platforms for at least the last few hundred years.” “The rates of change we’ve seen over the last 20 years are unprecedented in that...
Marin supervisors receive harrowing report on climate change, sea-level rise

Marin supervisors receive harrowing report on climate change, sea-level rise

SOURCE: Marin Independent Journal DATE: April 17, 2019 SNIP: Climate change is already negatively affecting the health of Marin residents and within 15 years attendant sea-level rise could threaten the county’s shoreline buildings, roads and original utility systems. This was the sobering message Marin supervisors received after Supervisor Kate Sears requested an update on the local health impacts of climate change and efforts to prepare for sea- level rise. “The important question to ask right now is when will climate change begin to affect the health of our community,” Kathy Koblick, a director in Marin County’s division of public health, told supervisors. “The answer is: it is now.” In her report Tuesday, she noted that over the last five years the county health department has issued at least seven health advisories due to conditions aggravated by climate change. The advisories ranged from alerts about air polluted by smoke to the presence of infectious diseases such as West Nile and Zika virus. Koblick said many of the health impacts are the consequences of the extreme weather – floods, drought, and extreme heat – caused by climate change. The fallout can result in increased displacement from homes, injury, indoor mold, vector-borne and infectious disease, food insecurity due to lower crop yields and disruptions in food supplies, water contamination, and mental health impacts. A vulnerability assessment released by the county in June 2017 showed that in just 15 years flooding due to sea-level rise could inundate some 700 buildings across 5,000 acres in Marin, affecting the lives of tens of thousands of...
When the dike breaks: How climate change threatens Maritime lowlands

When the dike breaks: How climate change threatens Maritime lowlands

SOURCE: Canada’s National Observer DATE: March 31, 2019 SNIP: Over the centuries the dikes protecting the Maritime lowlands have been extended, expanded and, in the 1950s and 60s, built higher and stronger through a massive federal rehabilitation program. But geomorphologists who study the changing shape of the coast say climate change is threatening anew the 241 kilometres of dikes that line the coasts and tidal rivers of Nova Scotia and another 100 kilometres in New Brunswick. A recently completed draft study by a team of geographers at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax indicates 70 per cent of the dikes in Nova Scotia are now vulnerable to even a one-in-50-year storm. In that scenario, a sustained tidal surge that comes up the Bay of Fundy with low atmospheric pressure, with gusts up to 80 kilometres per hour during a high spring tide, could push water over the tops of the structures. Behind the current dike, the faint outline of the much lower Acadian dikes remains visible. Anne Crowe’s recently restored lowland fields flourish and grow enough hay to feed a quarter of her 100 head of cattle. For Crowe, the possibility of losing land is a worrying option after spending thousands of dollars working the lowlands to create feed for her dairy cattle. “We’re talking about fossil fuels and let’s not burn too much — if I have to bring feed in from Quebec or Ontario, that’s going to take a lot more fuel than me just bringing it in from Ontario,” she...
As High-Tide Flooding Worsens, More Pollution Is Washing to the Sea

As High-Tide Flooding Worsens, More Pollution Is Washing to the Sea

SOURCE: Yale e360 DATE: March 14, 2019 SNIP: With global sea levels steadily rising — already up 8 inches in the past century and now increasing at an average of 1.3 inches per decade — the incidence of high-tide “sunny day” or “blue sky” flooding is on the rise, especially along the U.S. East Coast. Those flooding events now routinely wash over sections of cities, and when the waters recede they take with them an excess of nutrients and a toxic mix of pollutants that flows into rivers, bays, and oceans. As high-tide flooding worsened in Norfolk, Virginia in recent years, Margaret Mulholland, a biological oceanographer at Old Dominion University, started to think about the debris she saw in the waters that flowed back into Chesapeake Bay. Tipped-over garbage cans. Tossed-away hamburgers. Oil. Dirty diapers. Pet waste. [S]he decided to sample those waters. Until Mulholland… few if any researchers had examined exactly how much pollution this sunny day flooding was creating. And what Mulholland found shocked her. Analysis of water samples indicates that one morning of tidal flooding along the Lafayette River in Norfolk poured nearly the entire annual U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allocation of nitrogen runoff for the river — 1,941 pounds — into Chesapeake Bay. Mulholland is focused on measuring nitrogen, including ammonium, because of its effect on algae blooms, which create oxygen-depleted dead zones in bay waters. She said that other pollutants — including oil, gasoline, and trace metals — are also washing into waterways, as evidenced by the petroleum sheens visible on the water during high-tide flooding. “We can see it, and it would be...
Destruction from sea level rise in California could exceed worst wildfires and earthquakes, new research shows

Destruction from sea level rise in California could exceed worst wildfires and earthquakes, new research shows

SOURCE: LA Times DATE: March 13, 2019 SNIP: In the most extensive study to date on sea level rise in California, researchers say damage by the end of the century could be far more devastating than the worst earthquakes and wildfires in state history. A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists concluded that even a modest amount of sea level rise — often dismissed as a creeping, slow-moving disaster — could overwhelm communities when a storm hits at the same time. The study combines sea level rise and storms for the first time, as well as wave action, cliff erosion, beach loss and other coastal threats across California. These factors have been studied extensively but rarely together in the same model. The results are sobering. More than half a million Californians and $150 billion in property are at risk of flooding along the coast by 2100 — equivalent to 6% of the state’s GDP, the study found, and on par with Hurricane Katrina and some of the world’s costliest disasters. The number of people exposed is three times greater than previous models that considered only sea level rise. In the USGS study, published Wednesday in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, researchers brought together a number of models that examined wave action, tides, coastal erosion and flooding in California under sea level rise scenarios ranging from 0 to 2 meters (6.6 feet). On top of these projections, they added four different storm scenarios: average daily conditions, typical annual storm, 20-year storm, and 100-year storm. For example, with only 0.25 meters of sea level rise projected to occur by about 2040,...