Economic Effects of Storm Surge and Sea Level Rise on US Coasts

by Grace Stewart

Neumann et al. (2015) provide evidence that to properly analyze the risk climate change poses to coastal property, it is necessary to account for the effects of both sea level rise and storm surges. They conducted a study accounting for both of these phenomena in determining the economic damages to coastal regions through the year 2100 by combining three models—a tropical cyclone simulation model, storm surge model, and economic impact and adaptation model. This study seemed particularly relevant due to the recent Hurricane Sandy, which depicted the devastating effects of storm surges to infrastructure and safety of coastal residents. 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

Past Polar Ice-Sheet Mass Loss Contributes to Sea-Level Rise

by Grace Stewart

Understanding of global mean sea level during past interglacial periods has greatly improved, but many challenges remain. By using coastal records and oxygen-18 proxy data, Dutton et al. (2015) determined global mean sea level and the contribution from polar ice sheets during three past interglacial periods. Although the results were uncertain, it was determined that global mean sea level was higher than modern day levels in every interglacial period studied—the mid-Pliocene warm period 3,000,000 years ago, the marine isotope stage (MIS) 11 400,000 years ago, and MIS 5e 125,000 years ago. Previous findings were corrected by taking glacial isostatic adjustment (the adjustment of the earth for a long time after a period of deglaciation), dynamic topography, and ice sheet reconstructions into account. Continue reading