Rising Seas

by Owen Dubeck

Coral Davenport summarizes the effects of rising sea levels across Kiribati, Greenland, Panama, Fiji and the United States. Kiribati, a chain of islands northwest of Australia, will see some of the worst consequences. Given the island’s low elevation, it could be completely underwater by 2100. Fortunately, the government has urgently responded, buying over 6,000 acres of land in Fiji. This land can function both as a source of crops and possibly a new home. Continue reading

Multi-millennial climate change projection

by Simon Bjerkholt

What will the world look like due to humankind’s mistreatment of the environment in 100 years? 1000? 10000? Peter U. Clark et al. (2016) attempt to answer these questions in their article “consequences of twenty-first-century policy for multi-millennial climate and sea-level change” in the journal Nature Climate Change. According to their research and projections, the long term future of our climate looks very dreary. Continue reading

Climate Change Threatens the Javanese Way of Life

 

by Blaine Williams

In the face of climate change and rising sea levels, atolls––rings of islands formed by coral reefs––are some of the most vulnerable human-inhabited regions. In the atoll of Ontong Java, the world’s largest atoll, climate change has begun to affect the quality of life for the locals, and will create more hardship in the years to come. The highest point of the Ontong Java atoll is 10 feet above sea level, and with sea levels rising at a rate of a few millimeters a year, the islands are losing more and more land to the ocean. Faced with issues such as irregular weather patterns and imminent land loss, a key struggle for the inhabitants of Ontong Java is adapting to these changes and attempting to take them in stride. Continue reading

Sea-Level Rise Puts Indo-Pacific Mangrove Forests at Risk

by Grace Stewart

Mangroves provide an array of ecosystem services, from coastal protection to fishery support to carbon sequestration, all of which are at risk in the Indo-Pacific region due to sea-level rise (SLR). SLR can lead to inundation of these habitats and shoreline retreat. Lovelock et al. (2015) analyzed recent trends in mangrove surface elevation, finding that SLR could be combated when sediment availability allowed for soil-surface elevation gain at a rate that exceeded SLR. However, in 69% of the sites studied, SLR rate was exceeding the rate of soil-surface elevation gain. Lovelock et al. also presented a model based on field data that suggests submergence of forests with low tidal range and low sediment supply as early as 2070. Continue reading

Are Major U.S. Cities Doomed by Rising Sea Levels?

by Pushan Hinduja

As climate change becomes more and more of a threat, people around the world worry about the fate of US coastal cities that might one day be entirely submerged. Matthew E. Kahn, a visiting professor of economics and spatial science at the University of Southern California argues that these cities shouldn’t worry, as they will adapt and rise above the effects of climate change. Khan begins by citing a Rolling Stone article published in 2013 that predicted Miami, “the nation’s urban fantasy land” turning into an “American Atlantis.” Interestingly enough, this threat is not unique to Miami: the majority of Americans live within 50 miles of an ocean, whether that be in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, among many more. An economist by training, Khan argues that based on his understanding of how people invest their money during times of crisis and uncertainty, US coastal cities will successfully adapt to climate change and thus be “just fine.”

To be more specific, coastal city residents and firms are currently all aware that the dangers of rising sea levels are imminent. As a result, there is a huge market incentive for adaptation and the development of innovative solutions to these problems. Additionally, thanks to the “invisible hand,” homeowners will feel the pressure to take self-interest and protect their properties as best as they can to try to maintain value. Khan compares this to the increase in research in the pharmaceutical industry when there is expected demand for a certain drug.

In terms of actual adaptation to the rising sea levels, cities around the US will employ a variety of different tactics, ranging from the upgrading of existing structures to construction of new climate change-resilient structures using modular materials. Khan argues that the rising demand for these new developments will recruit young and new talent into the field, which will lower overhead costs for adaptation, ultimately making the whole system even more sustainable. Another key component of adaptation to climate change is the ability to move to “higher ground.” Khan argues that loss of land due to rising sea levels will not reduce the population in an urban area, because of the ability to retreat and develop on lower risk high ground.

Coastal cities as America’s economic hubs won’t be affected either, as the “physical place” is not what defines an economic hub; instead it is the human capital that clusters in any specific location that makes that place an economic hub. Thus rising sea levels may cause the economic hubs to change locations, perhaps only slightly, but will not negatively harm the U.S. economy.

Ultimately, Khan argues that although rising sea levels due to climate change will play an important role in defining coastal cities in the future, it will not render them underwater wastelands. In fact, US coastal cities will undergo a renaissance of “market-driven adaptation” that will cause both the economy and the population that currently resides in these ‘high threat’ areas to thrive.

Kahn, Matthew E., 2016. Rising Sea Levels Won’t Doom U.S. Coastal Cities. Harvard Business Review.

https://hbr.org/2016/01/rising-sea-levels-wont-doom-u-s-coastal-cities

 

China’s Sea Level Change

by Xiaoshi Zhu

As climate change becomes more dramatic in recent years, the rising sea level has begun to threaten more countries in the world. Among these regions, China has the largest population that will be affected by the likely inundation—a staggering 85 million people. In his article China’s Sea Change published in December 2015 on The Globe and Mail, Nathan VanderKlippe talks about how serious the problem has become and the actions that the Chinese government has taken to improve the bad situation. Continue reading

Interdisciplinary Asessment of Sea-Level Rise and Climate Change Impacts on the lower Nile Delta, Egypt

by Rebecca Herrera

The Mediterranean region will continue to experience climate change in much of the same way as other arid regions around the world. Susnik et al. (2014) set our to find our how the Nile River delta in Egypt experiences more intense droughts and water shortages, rising regional temperatures, an increased frequency of flash flood events, and sea level rise. It is critical to understand of how these climactic changes will impact the people residing in the delta. Susnik et al. take an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to studying the effects of sea level rise (SLR) on the lower Nile delta and the greater Alexandria areas by analyzing the results of three complementary projects; which reveal that water overexploitation exacerbates land subsidence and accelerates saline intrusion of soils and groundwater which has radiating effects on employment as well as placing additional pressure on agricultural lands and regional development. Continue reading