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Climate: Storm surge damage costs forecast to soar

‘If we ignore this problem, the consequences will be dramatic’

Winter storm surge eats away a beach on the west coast of Florida.

Winter storm surge eats away a beach on the west coast of Florida. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Watching damage from individual megastorms like Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan is bad enough, but the outlook for coming decades is downright scary.

According to new research, global average storm surge damages could increase from about $10-$40 billion per year today to up to $100,000 billion per year by the end of century without significant adaptation measures.

“If we ignore this problem, the consequences will be dramatic,” said Jochen Hinkel, a researcher with the Berlin-based think-tank Global Climate Forum. Continue reading

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Climate: Are Greenland’s glaciers speeding up?

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New data shows at least one glacier moving at a record pace of 50 feet per day

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Arctic ice researchers say detailed measurements show that one Greenland’s glaciers has been moving at a record speed the past few years.

The scientists with the University of Washington and the German Space Agency measured the movement of the Jakobshavn Isbræ (Jakobshavn Glacier) in 2012 and 2013, concluding that the glacier is moving four times as fast as during the 1990s.

“We are now seeing summer speeds more than 4 times what they were in the 1990s on a glacier which at that time was believed to be one of the fastest, if not the fastest, glacier in Greenland,” said Ian Joughin, a researcher at the Polar Science Center, University of Washington and lead-author of the study. Continue reading

Study: New Jersey shoreline faces significant threat from rising sea level

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Was Superstorm Sandy a sign of things to come for the Jersey Shore?

Due to a combination of factors, sea level along the Atlantic Seaboard is rising much faster than the global average

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The impacts of Hurricane Sandy may be a harbinger of future coastal devastation along the New Jersey shoreline, where sea level is rising much faster than the global average during the next century.

If the research by geoscientists at Rutgers and Tufts universities proves true, sea level in the region may rise by1.5 feet by 2050 and 3.5 feet by 2100 — that would mean that, by the middle of the century, the one-in-10 year flood level at Atlantic City would exceed any flood known there from the observational record, including Superstorm Sandy.

The study is based  in part on an analysis of  historic and modern-day records of sea-level rise in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region and builds on a recent study that reconstructed a 2,500-year record of sea level at the New Jersey shore. Continue reading

Climate: Rising sea level will drive coastal impacts

Sea level is rising, and will continue to rise for centuries even if we cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Sea level is rising, and will continue to rise for centuries even if we cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Threats will increase regardless of hurricane activity

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Increased damage to coastal property from rising sea levels is all but certain, according to a team of top researchers who urged a holistic approach to managing coastal systems. Regardless of changes in storm activity, rising sea levels will become the dominant driver of flooding and coastal damage, their study found.

“The potential for sea-level rise to dramatically change the landscape is an understudied aspect of coastal flooding,” said Jennifer Irish, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering with the Virginia Tech College of Engineering. “For example, shoreline erosion, barrier-island degradation, and new tidal inlet formation — these sedimentary changes could lead to catastrophic changes in hurricane flood risk in some areas,” Irish said. Continue reading

Report: IPCC sea level rise projection may be too low

Many experts think seas could rise 2 meters by 2100

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Sea level rise is already inundating parts of the Mississippi Delta. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Keeping sea level rise below 1 meter will require significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, a team of German and American researchers said this week after compiling the best available and most recent science.

Even with big cuts, sea level is expected to rise 40-60 centimeters by 2100 and 60-100 centimeters by 2300, according to the survey.

“While the results for the scenario with climate mitigation suggest a good chance of limiting future sea-level rise to one meter, the high emissions scenario would threaten the survival of some coastal cities and low-lying islands,” said Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Continue reading

Study: Record Greenland surface melt in 2012 didn’t speed up glacial movement

A new study of the Greenland snowpack reached surprising conclusions about concentrations of carbon monoxide.

A new study of the Greenland Ice Sheet may help refine sea-level rise forecasts.

‘Warmer summers will still lead to more rapid melting of the ice sheet …’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After examining a broad swath of the Greenland Ice Sheet, a science team led by University of Edinburgh researchers say they have a better understanding of how glacier movement is affected by melting ice in summer. That could lead to more accurate predictions of sea level rise.

The researchers gathered detailed GPS ice flow data and ice surface melt rates along a 115 kilometer transect in west Greenland and compared ice motion from an average melt year, 2009, with the exceptionally warm year of 2012.

The study, carried out in collaboration with the Universities of Sheffield, Aberdeen, Tasmania and Newcastle, was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and supported by the Natural Environment Research Council.

“Although the record summer melt did not intensify ice motion, warmer summers will still lead to more rapid melting of the ice sheet,” said Professor Peter Nienow, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study. “Furthermore, it is important that we continue to investigate how glaciers that end in the ocean are responding to climate change.” Continue reading

Rate of coastal wetlands losses speeds up

Sea level rise, development squeezes wetlands from both sides

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Rising sea level is encroaching on coastal wetlands. bberwyn photo.

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Critical coastal wetlands are being lost at the rate of 80,000 acres per year. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — With sea level encroaching on wetlands from the seaward side, and development taking chunks from landward, the U.S. coastal wetlands are being squeezed into an ever-smaller coastal fringe.

Overall, coastal wetlands are being lost at an unsustainable rate of about 80,000 acres per year, according to a new report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Those wetlands improve water quality and protect coastal communities from the effects of severe storms. They’re also crucial to the survival of fish, birds and other wildlife species, and help sustain the country’s multi-billion-dollar coastal fisheries and outdoor recreation industries. Read the full report here. Continue reading

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