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Ear to the Ground

Bad News for the Jersey Shore

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Posted on Jun 23, 2011
Flickr / Tattooed JJ

New Jersey’s leaders have some heavy lifting to do, quickly. Scientists who have reviewed the most detailed study yet produced on the subject of sea level changes over the last 2,000 years are predicting a three-foot rise for the state’s coastline by the end of the century.

Ocean level rise due to melting land-locked ice has proceeded at an average rate of about a tenth of an inch per year since the late 19th century, the study reports. That may seem piddling in the short term, and allows global warming deniers who also happen to be politicians to capitalize on the public’s general scientific illiteracy to evade serious, solution-oriented discussions of the climate crisis. But in the long run, the cumulative sea level rise will spell disaster for inhabitants of coastal regions everywhere. —ARK

The Huffington Post:

The researchers found that since the late 19th century – as the world became industrialized – sea level has risen more than 2 millimeters per year, on average. That’s a bit less than one-tenth of an inch, but it adds up over time.

It will lead to land loss, more flooding and saltwater invading bodies of fresh water, said lead researcher Benjamin Horton whose team examined sediment from North Carolina’s Outer Banks. He directs the Sea Level Research Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania.

... “This is a very important contribution because it firmly establishes that the rise in sea level in the 20th century is unprecedented for the recent geologic past,” said [Kenneth] Miller [chairman of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Rutgers University], who was not part of the research team. Miller said he recently advised New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie that the state needs to plan for a sea level rise of about 3 feet by the end of the century.

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Daye's avatar

By Daye, June 23, 2011 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment

There is nothing in the earlier comments hereunder worthy of response, alas.

The HuffPost article fails to explain how a 1/10th of an inch rise/year of water becomes a 3 ft. rise in this century of the New Jersey coast. But looking at the graphs & reading the actual study helps clarify what the study concludes is happening.

The following sentence on p. 3 of the PNAS publication of the study implies that runaway has begun. As has so often been the case for estimates of future climate & climate related changes, the estimates have been wrong because the rate of the changes is accelerating far faster than was assumed. In short, we should all be sufficiently concerned for the future of humanity to do whatever is necessary to immediately compel a sea change not just in the oceans, but in the kind, quality & behavior of both news organs & politicians:

“The long proxy sea-level reconstruction from North Carolina
gives a more robust constraint on the warming-induced, modern
acceleration of sea-level rise (specifically by tight constraint
of T0), because it is sufficiently long to include a multicentury
period of stable sea level.”

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By Sondergaard, June 23, 2011 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

True, on average sea level will rise at a rate that gives inhabitants decades to move to higher ground.  The sensationalistic presentation does more harm than good.

But that being said, the average sea-level rise isn’t the problem for populations and infrastructure.  It’s a “freak” storm tide one day that reaches far deeper inland than anyone expected and catches people off guard.

In that sense we can indeed look forward to events that will be called disasters when the time comes, despite being foreseen years before by anyone capable of mathematics.

Kind of like the economy.

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By TDoff, June 23, 2011 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment

Ya gotta admit, it’ll be fun to watch the turf wars as ‘Doze Joisey Guys ‘n Dolls’ fight for the NJ high ground as the rising seas lap at their fleeing butts.

It’ll be like a revival of the old La Cosa Nostra ‘Going to the mattresses’ days, when a family tried to encroach on another gang’s territory.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, June 23, 2011 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment

” But in the long run, the cumulative sea level rise will spell disaster for inhabitants of coastal regions everywhere.”

Ok. I’ll concede, finally, that global warming will absolutely cause the seas to rise three feet.

But the quote is the epitome of unseriousness. Are we to believe that the rise will be tsunami-like?

And, “Ocean level rise due to melting land-locked ice has proceeded at an average rate of about a tenth of an inch per year since the late 19th century.”

That means that sea levels have risen about a foot since then. Can anyone out there point to any “disaster” for coastal residents that that rise has causedin the last century?

Don’tya think maybe 90 years will be enough time for coastal inhabitants to maybe make some adjustments to their living and livelihood arrangements? Or are the poor huddled masses so adored by truthdiggers just too stupid to recognize that the water that’s been in their front yards for a year now is not a good sign?

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