To see what the beaches would do on their own in response to rising sea levels, just compare the present geographic locations of Island Beach State Park or the wildlife refuge at Holgate to those of the heavily developed resort neighborhoods next door.
“It’s not that they’re disappearing — they’re moving,” said Norbert Psuty, professor emeritus at Rutgers, displaying aerial photographs that show the wild beaches shifting hundreds of feet westward. “Island Beach is in the process of breaking down and being transported inland,” Psuty said at a Wednesday conference on climate change and coastal hazards. At the southern tip of Long Beach Island, the refuge beach now lines up with the middle of Holgate’s street grid.
“What we’re seeing today is unprecedented” — a regional sea level rise rate of 4 millimeters per year after millennia during which sea level was stable or rising by perhaps 1 millimeter a year, Miller said. He studies the shifting coastline with core samples that drill down through tens of thousands of years of sediment.
It’s the fastest increase since the end of the last ice age, when melting glaciers raised sea levels by 40 millimeters a year, Miller told a crowd that included more than 200 area high school students….