The Little Boy-Christ Child-El Niño

It seems that this year everyone is expecting and many hoping for a strong El Niño to develop off the California coast. Part of that sentence is wrong. El Niños don't develop off the California coast. They develop along the equator in the eastern Pacific Ocean and the resulting effects push north and south along the coasts of North and South America.

Sea surface temperatuers in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean during the very strong 1997 El Nino event.

So, what is going to happen this year? Well, a few months ago meteorologists began to take note of sea surface height conditions (measured via satellite) that were strikingly similar to what we saw in the months preceding the two last big El Niños (1997-’98 and 1982-’83). This led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to issue an official El Niño watch in early March. Since then, those conditions don’t seem to have gone away – and so the likelihood of El Niño forming continues to rise…

That whole paragraph was written last year on June 18, 2014 in a Grist.com article. As everyone knows that possible El Niño fizzled out. The article states that european scientists thought there was an 90% change of El Niño forming. So much for predictions I thought. In fact there are many confusing ideas about El Niños that people have in their heads. I was so convinced that my “idea” of an El Niño was going to happen last year that I collected numerous articles about when, where, and how and deleted them when it didn't happen. That was dumb because it actually did happen.

The long-anticipated El Niño has finally arrived, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. In their updated monthly outlook released today (March 5, 2015), forecasters issued an El Niño Advisory to declare the arrival of the ocean-atmospheric phenomenon marked by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean near the equator.

Due to the weak strength of the El Niño, widespread or significant global weather pattern impacts are not anticipated. However, certain impacts often associated with El Niño may appear this spring in parts of the Northern Hemisphere, such as wetter-than-normal conditions along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Note the “wetter-than-normal conditions along the U.S. Gulf Coast” and think Texas.

RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN / AP

So we really did have an El Niño and nobody really knew because of the confusing nature of El Niños.

Will an El Niño actually help break the California drought? Maybe it will and maybe it won't. It might depend on it's strength. The website, The Myths and Realities of El Niño, explains,

 

However, not all El Niños have the same strength or location, and consequently their impacts can vary significantly. In general, the larger the area and the greater the warming of the eastern Pacific's equatorial waters, the greater the impact on other regions. Since 1950 there have been 23(24?) years during which the equatorial Pacific has warmed enough to be classified as an El Niño. There have been a total of eight seasons beginning in years (1952, 1953, 1958, 1969, 1976, 1977, 2004, 2006, 2013) classified as “weak” El Niños, eight years (1951, 1963, 1968, 1986, 1991, 1994, 2002, 2009) as “moderate”, four years (1957, 1965, 1972, 1987) as “strong” and two years (1982, 1997) as “very strong” El Niños.

Will an El Niño bring lot's of rain to California. Maybe it will and maybe it won't.

Historical records for the past six plus decades for Central California, including the SF Bay Area, show that during the twenty-two El Niño events the rainfall has been roughly above normal (i.e., > 120%) half the time and below normal (see Climatology of El Niño Events and California Precipitation]

Over the same span, Northern California had three wet years during the five strong events, with five above-normal seasons during the seventeen weak-to-moderate El Niños.

Southern California showed more of a wet bias during strong El Niños with above-normal rain in four of the five seasons, near normal the fifth year. During weak to moderate events Southern California precipitation was above normal six of the 17 seasons, near normal six seasons and below normal the remaining five years.

The bottom line is that California can get wet during El Niño, but not always. As a matter of fact, the California drought in the 1976-77 winter was during a weak El Niño. It is important to keep in mind that El Niño is not the only thing happening in the atmosphere and that other patterns can either enhance or detract from its overall impact.

Will an El Niño cause massive damage to California due to flooding. Once again maybe it will or maybe it won't.

It is just as likely that California will have significant flooding in a non-El Niño year. Of the 10 costliest flood years in California since 1950, only four happened during a season when there was an El Niño. Two others occurred during seasons with La Niña, and the final four were when the temperature of the tropical Pacific was near normal…

The major weather pattern that causes flooding in California is when a strong surge of subtropical moisture dumps copious amounts of rain over a portion of California for five to seven days. These are so-called Atmospheric Rivers (“Pineapple connection”) and they are slightly more prevalent during years when there is no El Niño.

Where did El Niños get such a big and scary reputation? I think it's Chris Farley's fault.

It a little late in this post but let's give a simple explanation of what an El Niño is.

    Usually, the wind blows strongly from east to west along the equator in the Pacific. This actually piles up water (about half a meter's worth) in the western part of the Pacific. In the eastern part, deeper water (which is colder than the sun-warmed surface water) gets pulled up from below to replace the water pushed west. So, the normal situation is warm water (about 30 C) in the west, cold (about 22 C) in the east.

    In an El Niño, the winds pushing that water around get weaker. As a result, some of the warm water piled up in the west slumps back down to the east, and not as much cold water gets pulled up from below. Both these tend to make the water in the eastern Pacific warmer, which is one of the hallmarks of an El Niño.

    But it doesn't stop there. The warmer ocean then affects the winds–it makes the winds weaker! So if the winds get weaker, then the ocean gets warmer, which makes the winds get weaker, which makes the ocean get warmer … this is called a positive feedback, and is what makes an El Niño grow.

So the question of the day is will this year's El Niño be a super strong one. Many people think so but are hedging their bets. What's the current prediction?

Nearly all models predict El Niño to continue into the Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, with many multi-model averages predicting a strong event at its peak strength (3-month values of the Niño-3.4 index of +1.5oC or greater; Fig. 6). At this time, the forecaster consensus is in favor of a significant El Niño in excess of +1.5oC in the Niño-3.4 region. Overall, there is a greater than 90% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, and around an 80% chance it will last into early spring 2016.

Some are predicting the strongest El Niño ever recorded. The eastern Pacific Ocean has already seen some strange occurrences this year with record warm temperatures, record sea lion and Cassin's Auklet die-offs and strange marine life showing up.

Credit: NOAA Fisheries West Coast/Flickr

Over 50 birds doc­u­mented by a COASST team out­side of Lin­coln City, OR. © COASST

There are some things that an El Niño can bring and one of these is higher sea levels.

The El Niño event underway in the Pacific Ocean is impacting temperature and weather patterns around the world. But its effects aren’t confined to the atmosphere: A new study has found that the cyclical climate phenomenon can ratchet up sea levels off the West Coast by almost 8 inches over just a few seasons.

When water warms, it expands; in the case of the oceans, that means higher sea levels. This is part of what is causing the global-warming linked long-term rise in the oceans, as they absorb much of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. (Melting land-bound glaciers are also contributing to overall sea level rise.)

The clearest signals from El Niño on coastal sea levels were found along the West Coast; the find wasn’t surprising given that El Niño is a Pacific-based phenomenon.

On Hamlington’s charts, for example, the very strong El Niño events of 1982-83 and 1997-98 clearly jump out in the West Coast data. While the tide gauge and satellite data largely agreed, the satellites seemed to slightly underestimate the El Niño-related rise.

Unsurprisingly the biggest seasonal effects on sea level came during the fall and winter months, when El Niño events typically reach their peak.

The sea level rise signature from El Nino events during the four seasons (top) and the satellite and tide gauge records showing spikes during El Nino years, particularly in 1982 and 1997.

Credit: Hamlington, et al./JGR: Oceans

Sea-level measurements from Fort Point in San Francisco since 1900. This is the longest continuous sea-level record for any site on the West Coast of North America.

Source: US Geological Survey, 1999. USGS Library Call Number: (200) F327 no. 99-175.

From the above chart you can see a rising sea level during normal seasons already. Add in an El Niño year and you can have problems. This is an excellent link that take you to the Ocean Health Index site.

Construction of private homes on the frontal dunes. Homes in central Monterey Bay were threatened by erosion during the high tides, elevated sea levels, and large storm wave of the 1983 El Niño.

Photo courtesy of Gary Griggs, University of California, Santa Cruz

 

A huge wave breaks over the seawall at Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge and crashes onto a parked car on February 1, 1998. Throughout the following week, high winds and heavy rains combined with abnormally high tides to wreak havoc in the San Francisco Bay region. Inset photo shows a worker hauling sandbags through floodwaters in Sausalito, north of the Golden Gate Bridge, on February 7. U.S. Geological Survey scientists have shown that these extreme conditions were the direct result of the 1997—98 El Niño atmospheric phenomenon. (Photos by Lea Suzuki and Vince Maggiora / copyright San Francisco Chronicle.)

El Niño conditions, because of the higher sea levels, cause problems for the endangered Snowy Plover (in addition to it's many other problems) and sand loving shorebirds.

The impacts of El Niño (ENSO) winter storm events have not been mentioned in earlier plover monitoring reports, but the resultant beach erosion could be a contributing factor in reducing available nesting habitat. It may also affect over winter survival rates of potential breeding adults, thus causing a decline in breeding population the following summer. Figure 2 shows a recurring pattern of decreased total number of breeders in years following ENSO events. This trend would support the need for large scale habitat restoration at Point Reyes and further investigation into the impacts of climate change on Western Snowy Plovers.

This study shows problems for other shorebirds.

During an El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event (1997–1998), the extent of sandy habitat was greatly reduced and intertidal habitat was mostly converted to rocky substrate. The overall abundance of shorebirds and the mean abundance of some common species (e.g. sanderling) were depressed, and an uncommon species (surfbird, A. virgata) was unusually abundant during the ENSO event. In summary, the results suggest that sandy beaches are important habitat for many species of shorebirds…

There is further proof that El Niño conditions also affect migratory birds.

We found that migratory birds that over-wintered in South America experienced significantly drier environments during El Niño years, as reflected by reduced Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values, and arrived at stopover sites in reduced energetic condition during spring migration. During El Niño years migrants were also more likely to stopover immediately along the northern Gulf coast of the southeastern U.S. after crossing the Gulf of Mexico in small suboptimal forest patches where food resources are lower and migrant density often greater than larger more contiguous forests further inland.

It doesn't appear to me that California can handle a strong El Niño that involves strong storms with lot's of rain. Recently the remnants of Hurricane Dolores caused some damage in Southern California.

A rare and powerful rainstorm has drenched parched southern California, simultaneously wreaking havoc on major roadways and power lines while helping firefighters gain control of a wildfire that broke out on Friday.

Heavy rains on Saturday and Sunday closed beaches and knocked out power for many southern California residents. The storm rained out a Los Angeles Angels home game for the first time in two decades. The San Diego Padres home game has also been postponed due to inclement weather.

A bridge along Interstate 10, a major freeway connecting southern California and Arizona, washed out on Sunday amid the deluge in the desert. The collapse injured one driver and left hundreds of other cars stranded. It also cut off traffic in both directions, brining travel to a grinding halt.

summer storm delivered rain, thunder and lightning to central and southern California on Saturday, leading to beach closures, flash floods and outages that left tens of thousands of people without power. Photograph: John Bender/AP
A car hangs on the collapsed bridge of the eastbound Interstate 10 freeway west of Desert Center, California. Photograph: Handout/Reuters
So far I've only talked about the west coast. El Niños can have wide ranging effects on other parts of the United States. Some of these can be good and others not so much.

Coastal communities along the U.S. East Coast may be at risk to higher sea levels accompanied by more destructive storm surges in future El Niño years, according to a new study by NOAA. The study was prompted by an unusual number of destructive storm surges along the East Coast during the 2009-2010 El Niño winter.

From 1961 to 2010, it was found that in strong El Niño years, these coastal areas experienced nearly three times the average number of storm surge events (defined as those of one foot or greater). The research also found that waters in those areas saw a third-of-a-foot elevation in mean sea level above predicted conditions.

 

Peru has already declared a state of emergency but other parts of the planet welcomes an El Niño.

Fires in southeast Asia, droughts in eastern Australia, flooding in Peru often accompany El Niño events. Much of the media coverage on El Niño has focused on the more extreme and negative consequences typically associated with the phenomenon. To be sure, the impacts can wreak havoc in some developing and developed countries alike, but El Niño events are also associated with reduced frequency of Atlantic hurricanes, warmer winter temperatures in northern half of U.S., which reduce heating costs, and plentiful spring/summer rainfall in southeastern Brazil, central Argentina and Uruguay, which leads to above-average summer crop yields.

After writing this lengthy article what will it be? Disaster or relief? We will just have to wait and see. It does mean that we will see the hottest year ever. Good luck everybody wherever you are. Hope for the best. I will be on the beach observing it all.

UPDATE–11/18/2015. The 2015 El Niño just crossed into record territory

It's been likened to Godzilla for a reason — the 2015 El Niño event, which can be found amid overheated waters of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, has crossed a threshold into record territory.

The weekly index of average temperature departures from average across the central and eastern equatorial tropical Pacific has exceeded 3 degrees Celsius, or 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit, above average for the first time since this index began in 1990, according to new data released on Monday.

This data would suggest that the El Niño that forecasters have said would rank in the top three events ever recorded, has already hit the top spot. But that's not quite the case, since official El Niño strength rankings are based on longer-term averages, specifically, a three-month average.

UPDATE–5/8/16- So did the Godzilla El Niño help relieve our drought in California? Here's the latest map.

“The storm starts, when the drops start dropping

When the drops stop dropping then the storm starts stopping.”

Dr. Seuss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…a football field every hour

Edmund D. Fountain, Special to ProPublica/The Lens

Louisiana…”is washing away at a rate of a football field every hour, 16 square miles per year.” Back in July of 2013 I did a post called, “Miami is Doomed”. I mentioned towards the end of that post the problems facing Louisana’s Highway 1. “Highway 1 is facing a relative, sea-level rise of 9 millimeters per year–one of the highest rates on the U.S. Gulf Coast,” he said. “It’s subsiding at a rapid rate of 7 millimeters a year and is subject to sea-level rise of 2 millimeters yearly.”

The flooding of our coastal states from the sea is largely a local issue ignored and unreported by the national media. It generates very little attention except in times of huge storms. Recently ProPublica “an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest” published a report written by Bob Marshall of The Lens and Brian Jacobs and Al Shaw of ProPublica called, “Losing Ground“. It documents in a very visual way the lost of wetlands in coastal Louisana. Grist featured it on their website. The Grist site was were I first read about “Losing Ground”. Two Fridays ago MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on his show, “All In With Chris Hayes” featured the report. It was the Friday before Labor Day. The Rachel Maddow Show was a rerun and it was just before MSNBC sent the audience to prison (just a little programming humor for those of you who follow MSNBC). I’m sure a couple of people saw Chris’ show.

The sinking of Louisana isn’t just about climate change’s rising sea levels. There are many reasons both on the federal and state level. The first impact was the solution to the Great Flood of 1927, the Flood Control Act of 1928. By the mid-1930s the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had put the Mississippi River in a straitjacket of levees preventing sediment from reaching the Delta.

Next came the oil and gas industry. “Eventually, some 50,000 wells were permitted in the coastal zone. The state estimates that roughly 10,000 miles of canals were dredged to service them, although that only accounts for those covered by permitting systems. The state began to require some permits in the 1950s, but rigorous accounting didn’t begin until the Clean Water Act brought federal agencies into play in 1972.”

“Saltwater creeped in killing trees and plants–Shorelines crumbled–Spoil levees buried and trapped wetlands.”

“Researchers eventually would show that the damage wasn’t due to surface activities alone. When all that oil and gas was removed from below some areas, the layers of earth far below compacted and sank. Studies have shown that coastal subsidence has been highest in some areas with the highest rates of extraction.”

Next the oil and gas industry moved off the coast.  “To carry that harvest to onshore refineries, companies needed more underwater pipelines. So they dug wider, deeper waterways to accommodate the large ships that served offshore platforms.”

By 2000, coastal roads that had flooded only during major hurricanes were going underwater when high tides coincided with strong southerly winds. Islands and beaches that had been landmarks for lifetimes were gone, lakes had turned into bays, and bays had eaten through their borders to join the Gulf.”

“This land being swallowed by the Gulf is home to half of the country’s oil refineries, a matrix of pipelines that serve 90 percent of the nation’s offshore energy production and 30 percent of its total oil and gas supply, a port vital to 31 states, and 2 million people who would need to find other places to live.”

Louisana has a solution to their problem. They need $50 billion for a 50 year unproven solution and it seems to be let the taxpayers pay for it. The state has fought the idea of making the oil and gas industry pay for their share of the damage. 

                                      Mississippi River Delta in 2000.

 

                                   What researchers predict the delta may look like in 2100.
 
 Courtesy of M. Blum, original image from NASA’s GeoCover Data
 

 

If you need more convincing on sea level rise, Reuters is doing a series called, The crisis of rising sea levels. I briefly mentioned it this last July. It was in my post called, Studies, Reports, Studies, Reports. Part one of the series can be found here.

Since 2001, water has reached flood levels an average of 20 days or more a year in Annapolis, Maryland; Wilmington, North Carolina; Washington, D.C.; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Sandy Hook, New Jersey; and Charleston, South Carolina. Before 1971, none of these locations averaged more than five days a year. Annapolis had the highest average number of days a year above flood threshold since 2001, at 34. On the Delmarva Peninsula, the annual average tripled to 18 days at the Lewes, Delaware, tide gauge.”

The wait list is symptomatic of a larger problem hindering efforts to deal with rising seas: the U.S. government’s inability to confront the issue head-on.

Engineers say there are three possible responses to rising waters: undertake coastal defense projects; adapt with actions like raising roads and buildings; or abandon land to the sea. Lacking a national strategy, the United States applies these measures haphazardly.

Sea level rise has become mired in the debate over climate change. And on climate change, the politically polarized U.S. Congress can’t even agree whether it’s happening.”

Let’s throw in another report that relates to sea levels. Greenland And West Antarctic Ice Sheet Loss More Than Doubled In Last Five Years. That’s the title of this ThinkProgress.org article.

“Comparing the current CryoSat-2 data with “those from the ICESat satellite from the year 2009, the volume loss in Greenland has doubled since then.” Coauthor and glaciologist Prof. Dr. Angelika Humbert further explained in the news release:

“The loss of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has in the same time span increased by a factor of 3. Combined the two ice sheets are thinning at a rate of 500 cubic kilometres per year. That is the highest speed observed since altimetry satellite records began about 20 years ago.”

Studies, Reports, Studies, Reports

Lots of studies and reports have come out recently. Reports and studies are only useful if people read them. So let’s get started.

State of the Climate in 2013

“In 2013, the vast majority of worldwide climate indicators—greenhouse gases, sea levels, global temperatures, etc.—continued to reflect trends of a warmer planet, according to the indicators assessed in the State of the Climate in 2013 report, released online today(July 17, 2014) by the American Meteorological Society.

Scientists from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., served as the lead editors of the report, which was compiled by 425 scientists from 57 countries around the world.

“These findings reinforce what scientists for decades have observed: that our planet is becoming a warmer place,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D. “This report provides the foundational information we need to develop tools and services for communities, business, and nations to prepare for, and build resilience to, the impacts of climate change.””

Some of the highlights include:

Greenhouse gases continued to climb:


Weekly average concentration of carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa between 2010 and early 2014. Graph by NOAA Climate.gov, based on data provided by NOAA ESRL. Mauna Loa photo by Mary Miller, Exploratorium.

Warm temperature trends continued near the Earth’s surface:

Sea surface temperatures increased:

Sea level continued to rise:


The Arctic continued to warm; sea ice extent remained low:


Sea ice concentration in September 2013 compared to the median extent from 1981-2010 (gold line) and the 2012 record low (gray line). Map by NOAA Climate.gov, based on data provided by the National Snow and Ice Data Center. 


Exclusive: Coastal flooding has surged in U.S., Reuters finds:

I guess you can call this an analysis but it will soon become a NOAA Report due out this Summer.

“(Reuters) – Coastal flooding along the densely populated Eastern Seaboard of the United States has surged in recent years, a Reuters analysis has found.

During the past four decades, the number of days a year that tidal waters reached or exceeded National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration flood thresholds more than tripled in many places, the analysis found. At flood threshold, water can begin to pool on streets. As it rises farther, it can close roads, damage property and overwhelm drainage systems.

Since 2001, water has reached flood levels an average of 20 days or more a year in Annapolis, Maryland; Wilmington, North Carolina; Washington, D.C.; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Sandy Hook, New Jersey; and Charleston, South Carolina. Before 1971, none of those locations averaged more than five days a year. Annapolis had the highest average number of days a year above flood thresholds since 2001, at 34.”

 An Annapolis statue commemorating Roots author Alex Haley during Hurricane Isabel in 2003

A couple of articles backing up this analysis are:

Miami, the great world city, is drowning while the powers that be look away. I’ve written about Miami several times.

Norfolk, VA. Going, Going, Gone Underwater:

“The streets of Norfolk, Virginia, regularly flood now at high tide, often trapping people in their homes and preventing them from getting to work.

The City’s $24 million Chrysler Museum of Art was forced to empty its basement and move its HVAC system to the top floor of the building.

Churches in Norfolk now post tide charts on their web sites so people can determine whether they can even get to church. Some churches are being sold because they can’t pay their skyrocketing flood insurance premiums.”

Here in the west we have are own problems. Do we only take interest or hear about our local problems? If we don’t know what’s happening in the world how can we pull all this information together and come to any conclusions? Do the people in the west even know about the massive fires to the north of us?

Wildfires drive residents from homes in Washington state and Canada.

Washington wildfire largest in state history.

 

Report Details Climate Change Effects on 289 National Parks:

On July 2, the National Park Service released a report by two of its scientists that confirms that 289 of America’s parks and historic sites are experiencing climate change. That is, many are getting and staying hotter for longer, enduring more severe spikes in temperature, experiencing biblical deluges, or losing beach to erosion and rising tides.”

The full report which is only for the data enthusiasts can be found here.

Dovetailing with this report is one by the Union of Concerned Scientists called, “National Landmarks at Risk.

“From Ellis Island to the Everglades, Cape Canaveral to California’s César Chávez National Monument, these sites symbolize values that unite all Americans — patriotism, freedom, democracy, and more — and together help weave the very fabric of our shared history.

Today these sites face a perilous and uncertain future in a world of rising sea levels, more frequent wildfires, increased flooding, and other damaging effects of climate change.

We must prepare our cherished landmarks for these worsening climate impacts and take steps to make climate resilience a national priority. At the same time, we must work to minimize these risks in the future by reducing the carbon emissions that are causing climate change and its accompanying impacts.”


To show how important these national parks and monuments are we have a study titled, “Study says national parks boost economy in West”.

“On Friday, the National Park Service released a report that says spending on hotels, restaurants, gas and supplies by visitors to U.S. national parks in 2013 contributed $14.6 billion in economic benefits to communities within 60 miles of the parks nationwide.”

The full NPS press release can be found here. Note that visitation to the parks was down in 2013. Most of that was from the Repulican shutdown of the government.
 
Finally there is this report called, “U.S. Ranks Near Bottom on Energy Efficiency; Germany Tops List”.
 
“Germany leads the world in harnessing the benefits of energy efficiency, followed by Italy, the European Union, China and France, according to a new ranking of the world’s 16 largest economies. The United States was near the bottom, placing 13th.
America’s poor showing is sobering for a nation accustomed to being a world leader, and it could have economic consequences. “How can the United States compete in a global economy if it continues to waste money and energy that other countries save and can reinvest?” said Rachel Young, the principal author of the energy efficiency report card.
 
 Energy efficiency must provide more than half of the world’s carbon emissions reductions to avoid a catastrophic temperature increase, according to the International Energy Agency”

 
 

 
 

 I guess that’s all the reports and studies I have for you today but it looks like there’s more to come. Stay tuned!

 

 

 



 

 

Update: Miami is Doomed!

Back in July, I blogged that Miami is Doomed! It actually received a fair amount of attention. This morning I found this article by Joe Romm titled, “Miami Herald Story On City’s Worsening Coastal Flooding Never Mentions Global Warming Or Sea Level Rise“. With quotes like this, “It gets super flooded from the tide every couple of months,” said [Moses] Schwartz who lived on the island for more than 20 years before moving to the Brickell area on the mainland. “It’s getting worse and worse as the years go by.” and this, “Rodriguez said the city is thinking of short-term fixes to deal with the issue.“We’re looking at improving our sea walls and raising some of them,” she said.In search of a long-term solution, a delegation recently returned from the Netherlands, Rodriguez said, and the city will determine which of that country’s strategies to hold back high tides can be used here.“Some of their ideas we can do, others we can’t as we are in different geographic areas,” Rodriguez said.”

I mentioned why Miami can’t be fixed in the original post. “South Florida sits above a vast and porous limestone plateau.”

I will quote from a Rolling Stone article, “But the unavoidable truth is that sea levels are rising and Miami is on its way to becoming an American Atlantis. It may be another century before the city is completely underwater (though some more-pessimistic­ scientists predict it could be much sooner), but life in the vibrant metropolis of 5.5 million people will begin to dissolve much quicker, most likely within a few decades. The rising waters will destroy Miami slowly, by seeping into wiring, roads, building foundations and drinking-water supplies – and quickly, by increasing the destructive power of hurricanes. “Miami, as we know it today, is doomed,” says Harold Wanless, the chairman of the department of geological sciences at the University of Miami. “It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.”

Miami is in a state (Florida) of denial!

 Another article as to why this is happening can be found here.

Update:Marshall Islands are Doomed

Back in July, I had a post that was called, “The Marshall Islands are Doomed“. I would like to update that post. Let’s add the Solomons  Islands to the doomed list.

As stated in this article, “…Islands are becoming uninhabitable as the sea level slowly rises, forcing people to relocate. Thousands will be affected in the Solomons Islands alone and the government has no firm plans yet for what to do with them. A tranquil lagoon in Malaita, Lunga Lunga is sprinkled with islands but they are not the typical tropical variety. These precarious mounds of coral, with pole houses perched on the water’s edge, are artificial islands. Across Malaita province, tens of thousands of people live like this.”

“Those islands are greatly affected because salt water comes right up in the middle of the island, so it affects the root crops,” says Alick Maeaba, Deputy Premier of Malaita provincial government.

“That’s one of the major problems they’ve encountered. So it will continue to grow worse in the near future.” Australia’s Pacific Climate Change Science Program estimates the sea is rising in the Solomons by about eight millimetres a year. That is almost three times the global average. Locals say sea temperature rises have driven away the fish, their main source of protein.”

Once again this is not a future event but is happening now.

In another part of the world, the Maldives are doomed. “At the Maldives National Meteorological Center, Deputy Director Ali Shareef says: “There is no doubt climate change is having an effect here in the Maldives. Nowadays, we find severe weather events two to three times a year but a decade ago they might only happen once every year or two.”

“Bigger ocean swells are driving waves right over the islands, he says, contaminating with salt the thin lenses of fresh groundwater beneath, while thunderstorms are causing flash-flooding and knocking out power systems. The waves also drive erosion of the islands, accelerating a natural process that can shift an island over 30 meters (98 feet) in a decade.”

“Eighty to 90 percent of the inhabited islands see some erosion and these freak weather events are becoming more common,” says Shiham Adam, general director at the Marine Research Center. The degradation of the coral, the key breakwater of the ocean’s energy, further exacerbates the problem.”

The island nations are trying to fight back. “Earlier this month, however, de Brum’s country (Republic of Marshall Islands) played host to the Pacific Islands Forum, where Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell led the American delegation. Climate change was the topic of choice and in the end, the countries present agreed to a document known as theMajuro Declaration for Climate Leadership. Representatives of both the United States and European Union signed on to the non-binding agreement, a fact that de Brum frequently points to as a sign for optimism.”

This month in New York, “The meeting is among the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and their supporters, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. Given their stature on the world stage, it’s one of the few places where their numbers actually matter and their vote counts exactly the same as the United States and other major powers. Gathered together over plates of eggs, diplomats from such states as Barbados and Nauru are discussing how to draw attention to their upcoming meeting on the island of Samoa next year, the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States. All thirty-eight of the members are under threat of becoming a modern day Atlantis, their homes consumed by the rising seas.”

What about plan B? “And let me tell you, displacement of people in our part of the world is terminal. You know, you lose your sovereignty, you lose your language, you lose your tradition, you lose you. That we cannot — that is so repugnant to islanders….But it is still — a responsible leader must keep it in mind.” As the minister points out to me, Kiribati is investing in land in Fiji in the event they need to move. “That’s not a bad thing,” he says, “But myself, I sometimes feel that that might make people a little bit less vigilant and less proactive in trying to make sure that move doesn’t happen.”

One island nation is trying to do their part. “Tokelau (population: 1,500) is an island nation in the South Pacific, made up of three atolls whose highest point is only five meters above sea level. Even though the New Zealand protectorate’s contribution to climate change is miniscule, it faces grave threats to its very existence. In 2011, at the Durban Climate conference, Foua Toloa, the head of Tokelau, said the island would be using 100 percent renewable energy by 2012. By October of that year residents accomplished their goal, becoming the first country in the world to produce 100 percent of its electricity from the sun.”

Finally let’s look at one our states and the effects of rising seas on it. “Researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources recently published a paper showing that sea-level rise is a primary factor driving historical shoreline changes in Hawaiʻi and that historical rates of shoreline change are about two orders of magnitude greater than sea-level rise.” You can read about it in the Hawaii Star.
 
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE:”
“A man from one of the lowest-lying nations on Earth is trying to convince New Zealand judges that he is a refugee – suffering not from persecution, but from climate change.”
 
“The man said that in about 1998, king tides began regularly breaching the sea walls around his village, which was overcrowded and had no sewerage system. He said the fouled drinking water would make people vomit, and that there was no higher ground that would allow villagers to escape the knee-deep water.”
Bill Hodge, a constitutional law expert and associate professor at the University of Auckland, said he applauded Kidd’s “ingenious arguments” but didn’t think they would succeed because his client hasn’t been singled out and victimised due to something like his gender, race or political persuasion.

But Hodge added that even if the Kiribati man loses, his case might make a good argument for expanding the definition of what constitutes a refugee. He said he expected there would be increasing pressure on nations such as New Zealand and Australia to help provide new homes for Pacific islanders threatened by rising seas.”

You can read the full story in the Guardian.

I Almost Stole a National Geographic Magazine

I took a resident of the Lodge at the Woods to Coast Laboratory Services for a blood draw Monday. While waiting in the lobby I saw it!!!  An almost brand new copy of the September 2013 issue of National Geographic Magazine with the cover showing the Statue of Liberty with water up over her knees. The title was “Rising Seas”. I picked it up and it still had it’s special poster inside called, “Mapping a World Without Ice”. I had to have it!! What to do. My job takes me to many lobbies in Fort Bragg. I know where the good magazines are. Occasionally I’ve been known to take one home with me or even encourage a resident of the Lodge to take one home but this was a moral decision. A brand new magazine would be a first. How to get it out. I could put it under sweat shirt or maybe just fold it up with the paperwork I always bring with each resident. What to do, what to do? While they were drawing blood I just asked if I could take the magazine home. They said, “sure”. Problem solve, honesty is the best policy. 

You can see the online issue on their website.

The Marshall Islands are Doomed

I guess this could become a feature of this blog–what is doomed by climate change? Once again this is not some future event but is happening now.

“For the tens of thousands of people who live in the Marshall Islands, a string of more than 1,000 low-lying islands and coral atolls in the North Pacific Ocean, last week’s storms brought yet another reminder that the impacts of climate change aren’t something that awaits in a far-off, distant future.

They’re happening now.

Extremely high tides, combined with storm surge of 6 to 8 feet, lashed the coastline of the southern Marshall Islands around its capital Majuro on June 25, inundating the southern end of the atoll in up to 2 feet of water in many areas.”

At the same time, many of the northern Marshall Islands are in the middle of their worst drought in recent memory. Failing crops and dwindling water supplies have made the situation so dire for the roughly 6,000 people on these islands — many have been living on about a quart of water a day — that fresh water and food are being carried in by boat.”

“The biggest climate change impact on these low-lying islands, scattered across nearly a million square miles of ocean just north of the equator, is sea level rise, the result of warming ocean temperatures and the melting of polar ice sheets and glaciers around the world.”

The land rises only about 6 feet above sea level, leaving the Marshalls with little margin during severe weather.”

 

The above quotes are taken from two articles that are here and here.

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