Sunday, July 09, 2017

The Operative Word is "Already"

310 million people living in low-lying coastal areas are already vulnerable to sea level rise compounded by severe weather events.

Sea level rise has increased markedly in recent decades and it's only expected to continue accelerating. The past is gone - for good.

Bad as it can be when seas are calm, sea level rise takes on a much worse dimension when there are high tides or, worse, high tides coupled with severe weather events triggering storm surges. As New Yorkers learned during Hurricane Sandy that's when subways wind up underwater.

Up to 310 million people living in low elevation coastal zones are already directly or indirectly vulnerable to extreme sea levels.

Improving predictions for how much ocean levels may change in the future and how that will affect coastal communities has been a challenge for researchers for years.

But a new study that incorporates extreme weather events predicts extreme sea levels will occur more frequently than previously predicted, and it may be a game changer for researchers and coastal planners.

We've had severe storm events forever and long before climate change became a factor.  The role climate change plays is to increase these severe weather events in three areas - frequency, intensity and duration.

That's already happening in coastal towns and cities around the world. In my town a beautiful but low lying area can get inundated once, sometimes twice a year. In places such as Miami some roads can be underwater once or more a week. All the ingredients are there and growing - sea level rise, water temperatures, atmospheric temperatures and atmospheric water vapour levels. That's "already."


Toby said...

Feedback loops. The earth warmed. BC winters came mild, no more prolonged -40 to cull pine beetles which ate the pines leaving dry forests which burn baby burn adding more heat and more pollution and more global warming. As I write this there is smoke in the air.

It is similar with oceans. As oceans warm they create forces which cause more warming. Add in lots of destruction along the way. Nature's foot is on the accelerator.

The 310 million people vulnerable to sea level rise looks like a conservative number to me. Those people are going to move to higher ground, most of which is already occupied. Most climate refugees will not be welcomed into already overpopulated lands wherein the locals are already struggling or, at least, believe themselves to be. Climate refugees will demand food and water and, if not provided freely, will take it. There will be conflict and more refugees.

The Mound of Sound said...

Dire as your outlook is, Toby, there's not much in it to argue with. Now, what do we do about it?

Toby said...

I'm a pessimist on this, Mound. I have very little (if any) ability to persuade other people to practice birth control. My elected politicians ignore what I say. I can't persuade Veterans to oppose war. Most people I know look the other way when I bring up uncomfortable subjects like global warming. What do you suggest?