Skip to main content

At the height of hurricane season in September I join the annual migration of a group of surfers to Cape Hatteras to catch the swells. One of the popular, well known surf spots we go is named S Turns, after the bends in the road, located at the northern end of Rodanthe. Over the past 7 years I have body surfed where the ocean has been progressively overtaking exclusive beach front cottages and causing the road to be rebuilt. The most famous of these cottages is the "Serendipity"  house which was featured in the movie "Nights in Rodanthe". Before the owners moved it off the beach, I used the house for shade when I needed a break from the surf and sun.

All barrier islands are inherently unstable. They respond to shifting currents, storms and the build up and transport of sand and fine sediment. Human actions, such as dredging and jetty construction, to stabilize barrier islands can unintentionally lead to sand starvation and increased erosion rates. Hurricanes are frequently blamed for damaging the islands, but storm driven overwash actually built the chain of islands and inlets served as pressure valves to let storm water out.

Last year we surfed to the north at Nags Head after Hurricane Irene's storm surge smashed Rodanthe and two new inlets cut off the road.

Hurricane damage can be repaired. Gaps can be filled and bridges built. We are planning to meet again this September near Hatteras.

NC DOT closing the inlet formed at S-Turns, north of Rodanthe

Western Carolina Univ. air photo of north Rodanthe taken after hurricane Irene

Sea level rise, however, is like an ongoing tsunami. It keeps on coming. It's more relentless than a honey badger that's found a new hive. It is eating up Pea Island year after year, storm after storm. The most destructive force to barrier islands is rising sea level. The Outer Banks don't stand a chance against rising seas driven by the melting of glaciers and thermal expansion of the ocean caused by a rapidly warming climate. Pea Island is one big storm away from oblivion.

Ultimately, rising sea level will overrun all barrier islands from the Jersey shore to Miami Beach from Florida's pristine Gulf shores to south Padre Island on the Texas Gulf Coast. Sea level rise of about 20 feet will happen over the next 500 years or so (a rate of a meter per century) if we meet the goal of limiting global warming to an average of 2°C (3.6°F). If we fail to slash emissions and trigger multiple warming feedbacks sea level rise could be much faster higher.It happened in the last interglacial, the Eemian period, 125,000 years ago. The study of corals around the world has confirmed what I saw when I was bodysurfing on the west side of Kauai. I saw beach sands at an elevation of about 20 feet at the base of lava rock cliffs above the town of Waimea, where Captain Cook discovered Hawaii. Those sands are the remnants of beaches from the last high stand of the Pacific ocean. Uranium dating methods applied to corals around the world now found at about 20 feet above sea level reveal that these corals are of Eemian age - 125,000 years old.

These data indicate that global (eustatic) sea level peaked 5.5 to 9 meters above present sea level, requiring smaller ice sheets in both Greenland and Antarctica relative to today and indicating strong sea-level sensitivity to small changes in radiative forcing.
Much of Florida will be submerged. Southern Louisiana will be overtaken by the sea and New Orleans will be lost to the storm surges and tides. Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks will drown. This is the best case scenario environmentalists are working hard to achieve.

Map of buried inlets of the Outer Banks showing the Eeemian shoreline in brown
Under best case emissions scenarios sea level will rise to the green/brown boundary.

Billions and billions of dollars of damage will happen to major port cities as sea level rises. We aren't going to stop it. I can see it happening every year I go back to Hatteras.

During the last interglacial period, ~125,000 years ago, sea level was at least several meters higher than at present, with substantial variability observed for peak sea level at geographically diverse sites. Speculation that the West Antarctic ice sheet collapsed during the last interglacial period has drawn particular interest to understanding climate and ice-sheet dynamics during this time interval. We provide an internally consistent database of coral U-Th ages to assess last interglacial sea-level observations in the context of isostatic modeling and stratigraphic evidence. These data indicate that global (eustatic) sea level peaked 5.5 to 9 meters above present sea level, requiring smaller ice sheets in both Greenland and Antarctica relative to today and indicating strong sea-level sensitivity to small changes in radiative forcing.
Fortunately, the estimated rate of about 4 feet of sea level rise in one hundred years is slow enough that society can respond. Places such as Virginia Beach and Rodanthe will see the effects first because they are in sea level rise and erosion hotspots. We can live with 20 feet of sea level rise over 500 years. It's shocking to think of what will be lost, but it's a long way into the future. If we let global temperature increases go higher than 2°C we will have problems with America's food supply in the next 50 years. The present drought conditions may become the new normal in decades. And then things will get worse.

I am fighting to stop the unfathomably catastrophic consequences of exceeding 2°C. I am fighting to save the Amazon rain forest from going up in smoke and turning into savannah. I'm fighting to save the farms and vineyards of southern Europe from resembling north Africa. I am fighting to save the breadbasket of America from climate change that will make it resemble Amarillo Texas.  We cannot quit, we cannot lose hope because our grandchildren would be left a Road Warrior world.

Climate models run by NCAR's Aguio Dai confirm earlier studies that show the catastrophic drying of America's bread basket under high emissions scenarios. Famine and global conflict will be the inevitable consequence of allowing greenhouse gas emissions to continue to grow. Last years drought in Texas and Mexico and this years drought in the midcontinent are the start of this process of warming and drying that we must stop.

Source: PUBLISHED ONLINE: 5 AUGUST 2012 | DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1633 Increasing drought under global warming in observations and models Aiguo Dai News summary of article and figure source link here.

Climate Action!

If you happen to wander over to Mitt Romney’s website, try to decipher his policy positions on climate change.  But don’t look too long; climate change isn't even mentioned once.

The stakes are too high to play politics with our lives.  Please sign our petition that asks Mr. Romney two simple questions:

  • Do you disagree with the scientific consensus that humans are warming the planet?
  • If not, what do you plan to do to solve the climate crisis if you are elected President?

When enough people ask, will deliver this petition to Romney campaign headquarters to see if he's ready to answer.

Please stay tuned for our follow-up report!

Originally posted to Climate Change SOS on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 05:19 PM PDT.

Also republished by J Town, DK GreenRoots, and Moving Planet.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Meteor Blades, skybluewater, a gilas girl, GainesT1958, Grassroots Mom, JekyllnHyde, Alumbrados, Ed in Montana, PrahaPartizan, Bill in Portland Maine, Odysseus, teacherken, glitterscale, Gooserock, melvynny, mimi, BigOkie, PeterHug, RunawayRose, karlpk, Shockwave, Wintermute, liz, hyperstation, eeff, Woody, floridagal, hubcap, Creosote, concernedamerican, fugwb, susakinovember, Pithy Cherub, barath, farmerhunt, roses, ivote2004, Ignacio Magaloni, retLT, wonmug, rioduran, navajo, antirove, tomephil, kharma, psnyder, Nag, emmasnacker, Miss Jones, pat bunny, leevank, Lawrence, riverlover, zerelda, ybruti, side pocket, mungley, JayDean, xyz, Pam LaPier, oortdust, Julie Gulden, nailbender, joanneleon, humphrey, ExStr8, kbman, maybeeso in michigan, marina, 3goldens, Tinfoil Hat, NoMoreLies, revbludge, Lying eyes, KnotIookin, kamarvt, kitchen sink think tank, ccasas, Bcre8ve, citizenx, Brooke In Seattle, YucatanMan, trinityfly, Laurence Lewis, reflectionsv37, GreyHawk, Burned, Little Lulu, blue jersey mom, jeff in nyc, Isara, spunhard, joeotter, deepsouthdoug, the fan man, JanF, mightymouse, noweasels, Nowhere Man, BachFan, Orinoco, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, myboo, tonyahky, HoundDog, mooshter, KenBee, ceriboo, Magnifico, StrayCat, erratic, A Siegel, SadieSue, middleagedhousewife, CA Nana, doingbusinessas, blueoregon, kurt, kurious, Little, Thinking Fella, bear83, pgm 01, RWood, pfiore8, Cronesense, blue armadillo, ninkasi23, Mary Mike, tbirchard, terabytes, eOz, bnasley, RosyFinch, jayden, jnhobbs, jhop7, gchaucer2, VA Breeze, revm3up, zerone, mamamedusa, Sixty Something, NewDealer, cumberland sibyl, treesrock, KJG52, Its any one guess, VL Baker, jamess, beltane, bluesheep, envwq, priceman, Robobagpiper, Ellinorianne, toom, SolarMom, forgore, 207wickedgood, maggiejean, Louisiana 1976, Florene, Valatius, nchristine, Carol in San Antonio, LeftOfYou, maryabein, dRefractor, kevinpdx, IreGyre, astral66, citisven, Larsstephens, Amber6541, parse this, rb137, NJpeach, serendipityisabitch, Susan Grigsby, jethrock, eb23, renzo capetti, samanthab, pixxer, kenwards, tapu dali, Oh Mary Oh, cany, no way lack of brain, Onomastic, mama jo, Bob Duck, bgblcklab1, slowbutsure, Hopeful Skeptic, kirbybruno, vahana, itzik shpitzik, skip945, page394, princesspat, takatobimasu, smiley7, Cinnamon Rollover, Wheever, CherryTheTart, enhydra lutris, peregrine kate, Imhotepsings, Marihilda, SteelerGrrl, RLMiller, dradams, jadt65, Regina in a Sears Kit House, caryltoo, No one gets out alive, bearette, Only Needs a Beat, weatherdude, bdemelle, anodnhajo, angry marmot, Siri, Joieau, Trotskyrepublican, CA ridebalanced, Horace Boothroyd III, Darryl House, Lorinda Pike, radical simplicity, Margd, wxorknot, redstella, jim in IA, Glen The Plumber, James Wells, Robynhood too, John Crapper, DamselleFly, quince, Ree Zen, Dont Just Sit There DO SOMETHING, blue91, Jim Domenico, Kombema

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site