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Tag Archive: sea level rise

  1. From Miami to Shanghai: 3C of warming will leave world cities below sea level

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    • An elevated level of climate change would lock in irreversible sea-level rises affecting hundreds of millions of people, Guardian data analysis shows
    • local preparations for a 3C world are as patchy as international efforts to prevent it from happening. At six of the coastal regions most likely to be affected, government planners are only slowly coming to grips with the enormity of the task ahead – and in some cases have done nothing.
    • UN Environment Program said that the international body said government commitments were only a third of what was needed.

    Hundreds of millions of urban dwellers around the world face their cities being inundated by rising seawaters if latest UN warnings that the world is on course for 3C of global warming come true, according to a Guardian data analysis.

    Famous beaches, commercial districts and swaths of farmland will be threatened at this elevated level of climate change, which the UN warned this week is a very real prospect unless nations reduce their carbon emissions.

    Data from the Climate Central group of scientists analysed by Guardian journalists shows that 3C of global warming would ultimately lock in irreversible sea-level rises of perhaps two metres. Cities from Shanghai to Alexandria, and Rio to Osaka are among the worst affected. Miami would be inundated – as would the entire bottom third of the US state of Florida.

    The Guardian has found, however, that local preparations for a 3C world are as patchy as international efforts to prevent it from happening. At six of the coastal regions most likely to be affected, government planners are only slowly coming to grips with the enormity of the task ahead – and in some cases have done nothing.

    This comes ahead of the latest round of climate talks in Bonn next week, when negotiators will work on ways to monitor, fund and ratchet up national commitments to cut CO2 so that temperatures can rise on a safer path of between 1.5 and 2C, which is the goal of the Paris agreement reached in 2015.

    The momentum for change is currently too slow, according to the UN Environment Programme. In its annual emissions gap report, released on Tuesday, the international body said government commitments were only a third of what was needed. Non-state actors such as cities, companies and citizens can only partly fill this void, which leaves warming on course to rise to 3C or beyond by the end of this century, the report said….

  2. Scientific reticence on climate change- Jim Hansen

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    26 October 2017  by James Hansen read this draft discussion and find links to other papers here

    I am writing Scientific Reticence and the Fate of Humanity in response to a query from the editor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics who handled Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise and Superstorms. That paper, together with Young People’s Burden makes the case for a low global warming target and the urgency of phasing out fossil fuel emissions. We argue that global warming of 2°C , or even 1.5°C, is dangerous, because these levels are far above Holocene temperatures and even warmer than best estimates for the Eemian, when sea level reached 6-9 meters (20-30 feet) higher than today. Earth’s history shows that sea level adjusts to changes in global temperature. We conclude that eventual sea level rise of several meters could be locked in, if rapid emission
    reductions do not begin soon, and could occur within 50-150 years with the extraordinary climate forcing of continued “business-as-usual” fossil fuel emissions….
  3. Expect the Unexpected: SF Baylands and Climate Change – Point Blue post for Resilient by Design

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    Expecting the unexpected (originally posted for the Bay Area: Resilient By Design)

    2015-03-04 RMApano.jpgPoint Blue photos

    Trying to predict the future of our baylands could seem foolhardy given uncertainty in climate change, ecological “tipping points,” and how people prepare for these changes. Despite this, the region’s shoreline will be transformed in response to climate change and a growing human population. As we plan for the future, we must consider how to manage this transformation for people and wildlife, minimizing negative impacts and maximizing benefits.

    Securing nature’s benefits for people and wildlife

    Bay Area residents deeply value the baylands for providing healthy bird and fish habitat, improved water quality, reduced flooding, and world-class recreational opportunities. Our community’s commitment has been demonstrated by the more than  $500 million invested in wetland conservation and restoration since 1985 (as tracked by the SF Bay Joint Venture). This dedication was on full display when a supermajority of voters recently opted to tax themselves for more Baylands restoration in the face of accelerating climate change.

    PIX-CR-BN 175.jpg

    Looking forward, we need to ensure that:

    • our investments in bayland conservation are resilient to rising seas and increasingly intense storm events;
    • human assets such as roads, buildings and bridges, are protected, or appropriately relocated or redesigned;
    • underserved communities are actively engaged; and,
    • these vital adaptation endeavors entail the least cost.

    Prepare for extremes for greatest resilience

    We must also recognize that ecological change will be continuous, with sudden spurts of significant transformation.  Studies of past geologic eras, for example, show that ecosystems shifted dramatically in relatively short periods of time.  Today, we are already experiencing ecosystem transformations on a human time scale in Alaska and other parts of Earth’s polar regions where temperatures have warmed twice as fast as in the Bay Area.

    In addition, rising seas, storm events (e.g., “Superstorm” Harvey), drought and other climate change impacts continue to exceed what the science projected just a few years ago.

    Thus, the most resilient adaptation solutions will be those that are flexible and sensitive to a range of future scenarios, including extreme events at the highest end of what we know to be plausible today.

    The US Navy, for example, is now investing in strategies to address the more extreme scenarios.  According to a Harvard Business Review assessment, the Navy is raising coastal infrastructure and “improving its ability to recover rapidly when damage occurs.”  They are requiring “planners to provide additional justification when a new building is to be situated within two meters [6.6 feet] of sea-level-rise forecasts.” And, “buildings that pass this new hurdle must incorporate flood barriers and backup systems to withstand rising sea levels and storm surges.” While this “bets” approach may cost more initially, it will be essential to avoiding catastrophic outcomes from extreme and difficult to predict events.

    Highway 37: a multi-benefit, long-term approach

    “the most resilient adaptation solutions will be those that are flexible and sensitive to a range of future scenarios”

    Future planning for the Bay Area would benefit from applying the Navy’s approach.  For example, a recent UC Davis analysis of adaptation alternatives for the Highway 37 corridor, stretching from Novato to Vallejo, found that a levee embankment (making the road higher and wider to prevent flooding) would cost less than one third of a raised causeway. Given the challenges with funding transportation infrastructure improvements, it is understandable that planners may desire this alternative.

    However, the embankment would have the greatest negative ecological impacts of any of the alternatives considered.  It might constrain other future restoration alternatives in San Pablo Baylands, and will not be resilient to the high end scenarios of sea level rise and storm surge events forecasted by scientists today.  Caltrans directed UC Davis to only evaluate the costs of construction needed to prevent overtopping from three feet of sea level rise (plus a 100-year storm surge and three feet of wave run-up). This is now considered low based on the most recent science report from the state and other new studies.

    Based on these higher sea level rise projections, it is likely that the costs for the levee embankment alternative could increase substantially while the cost of the raised causeway alternatives could remain close to the same. The raised causeway options – or a bridge that would avoid the baylands entirely- would also re-establish hydrological connectivity between the baylands north of Highway 37 and the bay, reintroducing physical processes that facilitate natural adaptation to sea level rise and provide other benefits to people and wildlife.

    We urge planners, policy makers and designers, as they help the Bay Area become more resilient and responsive to continuous climate change, increasingly extreme events and unexpected transformations, to embrace Oscar Wilde’s insightful words, “To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect!”

  4. Students, Cities and States Take the Climate Fight to Court

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    • Several groups and individuals around the United States have gone to court to try to do what the Trump administration has so far declined to do: confront the causes and effects of global warming.
    • Efforts in the United States are part of a wave of litigation around the world, including a 2015 decision in which a court in the Netherlands ordered the Dutch government to toughen its climate policies; that case is under appeal. A 2017 report from the United Nations Environment Program found nearly 900 climate litigation suits in more than 20 countries.

    read full NY Times article here

    In California, two counties and a city recently sued 37 fossil fuel companies, seeking funds to cover the costs of dealing with a warming world. In Oregon, a federal lawsuit brought on behalf of young people is moving toward a February trial date, though the so-called children’s suit could be tossed out before that. And more than a dozen state attorneys general have sued to block Trump administration moves to roll back environmental regulations.

    ….In the new suits, Marin and San Mateo Counties and the City of Imperial Beach are accusing the oil companies of knowing that their industry would cause catastrophic climate change and covering up the evidence.

    Serge Dedina, the mayor of Imperial Beach, said his community was already dealing with coastal flooding and increasingly heavy rains, and sees more to come as the sea level rises. “How do we make sure those responsible pay the costs so that residents of communities like mine don’t have to pay the costs?” he asked.

    The supervisor for District 3 of Marin County, Kathrin Sears, said, “It’s time to hold these oil, gas and coal companies accountable for the damage they knew their products would cause.

    ….Perhaps the most effective litigators in the fight against climate change could turn out to be state attorneys general. During the Obama administration, conservative attorneys general like Oklahoma’s Scott Pruitt, who had a particularly close relationship with fossil fuel interests, fought environmental initiatives and often had private-sector players as fellow plaintiffs.

    Now Mr. Pruitt heads the Environmental Protection Agency, and progressive attorneys general, especially New York’s Eric T. Schneidermanare suing just as enthusiastically, along with environmental groups, to counter the administration’s efforts to roll back climate change regulations.

    Their pushback could already be having an effect. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency reversed itself on a one-year delay it had announced on enforcing a rule regarding ozone — one day after attorneys general filed a lawsuit challenging the delay

  5. Marin County joins San Mateo Co and City of Imperial Beach legal suit vs. fossil fuel giants; could be next big strategy for suing over climate change

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    • Two California coastal counties and one beach-side city touched off a possible new legal front in the climate change battle this week, suing dozens of major oil, coal, and other fossil fuel companies for the damages they say they will incur due to rising seas. Washington Post.
    • County contends that the companies knew for nearly 50 years that their fossil fuel products would cause sea level rise and coastal flooding but still failed either to warn the public or take steps to reduce their greenhouse gas pollution – Read full Marin County Press Release hereJuly 17, 2017  County of Marin San Rafael, CA – Marin County Press Release …the County of Marin has joined two other jurisdictions[PDF] in filing complaints[PDF] in California Superior Court against 37 oil, gas and coal companies. Marin, the County of San Mateo and City of Imperial Beach contend that the companies knew for nearly 50 years that their fossil fuel products would cause sea level rise and coastal flooding but still failed either to warn the public or take steps to reduce their greenhouse gas pollution.
      An archive photo of a flooded Manzanita Park and Ride lot in the Tam Junction area.Seasonal flooding, depicted by this inundated parking lot at the Manzanita Park and Ride lot in the Tam Junction area of southern Marin, is becoming more and more commonplace. County of Marin

      ….According to the complaint, the companies “concealed the dangers, sought to undermine public support for greenhouse gas regulation, and engaged in massive campaigns to promote the ever-increasing use of their products at ever greater volumes.”“Sea level rise is here and we’re experiencing it first hand in Marin, as roadways continually flood with king tides and storms,” said District 3 Supervisor Kate Sears, a member of the Board’s subcommittees for sea level rise and the County’s Climate Action Plan…..

      Along Marin’s San Francisco Bay shoreline alone, an estimated $15.5 billion in assessed property is endangered by projected rises in ocean and bay levels, according to the County’s BayWAVE Vulnerability Assessment, completed in June. More than 12,000 homes, businesses and institutions could be at risk from tides and surge flooding by the year 2100.

      …In addition to sea level rise, Marin’s coastal communities are threatened by king tides and flooding, and severe storms will be frequent, longer-lasting, and more damaging.  A separate 2017 state sea level rise assessment projects that bay levels could rise by nearly seven feet by the end of this century if emissions continue unabated.

      The County has already spent millions of dollars on projects that help repair lands and infrastructure affected by rising sea levels and planning for its longer-term effects. After years of witnessing and paying for the effects of greenhouse gas emissions, County of Marin officials said enough is enough…

  6. Shifting storms to bring extreme waves, seaside damage to once placid areas

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    • Sea level rise not only impact climate change will bring to the world’s coastlines
    • It is the damaging power of wave energy — and the disruption of long-established storm patterns due to climate change — that present a new danger.

    July 20, 2017  University of New South Wales

    The world’s most extensive study of a major stormfront striking the coast has revealed a previously unrecognised danger from climate change: as storm patterns fluctuate, waterfront areas once thought safe are likely to be hammered and damaged as never before...
    …This isn’t just about protecting beaches: billions of dollars’ worth of city infrastructure around the world is threatened by coastal erosion: buildings, roads, power and water utility corridors, sewerage lines — and this will only worsen as sea levels rise, causing storm tides to do more damage and reach deeper inland.”..
    Mitchell D. Harley, Ian L. Turner, Michael A. Kinsela, Jason H. Middleton, Peter J. Mumford, Kristen D. Splinter, Matthew S. Phillips, Joshua A. Simmons, David J. Hanslow, Andrew D. Short. Extreme coastal erosion enhanced by anomalous extratropical storm wave direction. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-05792-1
  7. Iconic coast threatened as rising seas ‘drown’ beaches

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  8. Extreme coastal sea levels more likely to occur- new projections

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    Extreme coastal sea levels more likely to occur, new data, advanced modeling techniques suggest

    Posted: 07 Jul 2017 10:38 AM PDT

    …a new international study that incorporates extreme events may have just given researchers and coastal planners what they need. The study uses newly available data and advanced models to improve global predictions when it comes to extreme sea levels.

    The results suggest that extreme sea levels will likely occur more frequently than previously predicted, particularly in the west coast regions of the U.S. and in large parts of Europe and Australia.

    …Because of the rising sea levels, which research has confirmed has occurred steadily during the past century and is expected to accelerate in the future, extreme events that are now expected to happen, on average, only once every hundred years, could occur every decade or even every year, in many places by 2050, the study said.

    “Storm surges globally lead to considerable loss of life and billions of dollars of damages each year, and yet we still have a limited understanding of the likelihood and associated uncertainties of these extreme events both today and in the future,” said Thomas Wahl, an assistant engineering professor in the University of Central Florida who led the study….

    T. Wahl, I. D. Haigh, R. J. Nicholls, A. Arns, S. Dangendorf, J. Hinkel, A. B. A. Slangen. Understanding extreme sea levels for broad-scale coastal impact and adaptation analysis. Nature Communications, 2017; 8: 16075 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms16075

  9. Seaside sparrows caught between predators, rising seas

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    Posted: 12 Jul 2017 04:28 AM PDT  read full story at ScienceDaily

    Sea-level rise is a problem for saltmarsh birds, but so is predation, and birds sometimes find themselves caught between two threats: They can nest lower in vegetation to avoid predators, putting them at risk of flooding, or move up to keep dry but risk getting eaten. A new study finds that pressure from predators increases flooding risk for seaside sparrow nests — but that protecting them from predators could also mitigate the effects of climate change.

    Nest predation rates are so high right now that even under extreme sea level rise conditions, more nests are likely to be eaten than flooded,” says Hunter. “However, predation and flooding threats act synergistically, meaning that any estimates of the negative effects of sea level rise on the nesting success of Seaside Sparrow or other species are likely underestimates if they do not also consider the negative effects of predation on flooding risk. The flip side of this is that management actions to reduce nest predation could also reduce the risk of nest failures from flooding.” If measures such as fencing nest sites to exclude predators are taken, birds may place their nests higher in the salt-marsh vegetation, avoiding flooding from extreme high tides.

    …”Regardless of the threat, it is increasingly clear that tidal marsh birds and their habitats are in trouble, and that we need to explore a range of potential solutions to find ways to help them persist in light of the many ways that humans are changing coastal habitats”…

    Elizabeth A. Hunter. How will sea-level rise affect threats to nesting success for Seaside Sparrows? The Condor, 2017; 119 (3): 459 DOI: 10.1650/CONDOR-17-11.1