Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rising sea level bringing change to coastal life

Kirk Moore in the Asbury Park Press (New Jersey): …Climate change is already forcing subtle adjustments in how people live along the coast, from insurance costs to community planning, according to speakers at a panel on climate-change effects at the Shore, hosted today by Monmouth University's Urban Coast Institute and co-sponsored by the Jersey Shore Partnership and Monmouth-Ocean Development Council.

"Adaptation is already well under way," said Radley Horton, a scientist with Columbia University's Center for Climate System Research and an adviser to New York City's climate change committee. City planners are looking to protect critical infrastructure from sea-level rise, conservatively projected at 1 to 2 feet in this century, he said.

Even if storms don't increase in strength and frequency, that sea-level rise will mean that today's storm floods of about 8 feet above mean low water will occur five times as frequently, Horton told the gathering in Wilson Hall. Speakers also warned that "nuisance flooding" will become more common in coastal communities as the sea-level trend continues.

"Coastal communities are the canary in the coal mine when it comes to global warming," said Belmar Mayor Kenneth E. Pringle, who talked about mitigation plans for his town, such as redirecting storm water drainage away from Silver Lake, and even developing a contingency plan to pump storm overflows from Lake Como into the sea.

"There is a focus in the American mind-set that (Hurricane) Katrina is what we have to worry about," Pringle said, referring to the $40 billion disaster of 2005. Instead, he foresees how smaller but "frequent, progressively damaging storms" could in time reduce the quality of life at the Shore and make it difficult to invest…..

Flooding from Hurricane Gloria in 1985, Cape May, New Jersey. Photo by the US Coast Guard

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