Sunday, November 23, 2008

How global warming will affect beaches, coastlines

Science Daily: …Several scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego are finding that sea level rise will have different consequences in different places but that they will be profound on virtually all coastlines. Land in some areas of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States will simply be underwater.

On the West Coast, with its different topography and different climate regimes, problems will likely play out differently. The scientists’ most recent conclusions, even when conservative scenarios are involved, suggest that coastal development, popular beaches, vital estuaries, and even California’s supply of fresh water could be severely impacted by a combination of natural and human-made forces.

Scripps climate scientists often consider changes in average conditions over many years but, in this case, it’s the extremes that have them worried. A global sea level rise that makes gentle summer surf lap at a beachgoer’s knees rather than his or her ankles is one thing. But when coupled with energetic winter El Niño-fueled storms and high tides, elevated water levels would have dramatic consequences.

…The oceans are rising because the warming ocean water increases in volume and because water is being added from melting glaciers and land-based ice sheets. The complex difficult-to-predict contribution of the latter is such a matter of controversy that the recent IPCC Fourth Assessment report didn’t factor glacial melt into its sea level rise estimates. Today there is quite broad-based opinion that the IPCC estimates are considerably lower than the higher range of possible sea level rise.

Erosion exposed at low tide in Zanzibar, Tanzania, shot by Eirik Newth from Oslo, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


This is certainly very interesting global warming news, thanks a lot for sharing the information...