Beach Erosion Mute Evidence of Sea Level Rise

January 17, 2014

‘Two metres depth of sand and shingle disappeared.’ – a view of Covehithe on the Suffolk coast. Photograph: Anthony Robinson

Following massive storms  and flooding that recently hit the UK, extensive damages to coastal areas including beaches is showing up.
Beaches, of course, change from time to time, the injunctions not to build on sand are biblical – but humans generally build coastal structures in areas that have remained much the same over some period, and in Europe many such structures have been in place for decades and even much longer – so the damage to the built environment tells us something.

And by ‘us”, I mean, people who step out of the Fox News universe and believe their lying eyes. We have a lively discussion thread going after I posted video of flooding and sea level rise impact in South Florida, something climate deniers seem unable to process.

More pictures at The Guardian.

A battered lookout at Ynys Mon, Newborough. ‘It took about a year to build and only opened in the summer. Am told it cost 50k. It lasted 6 months.’ Photograph: wookietaff/GuardianWitness

‘The dog is standing on pure clay where two to three feet of sand used to be,’ writes our reader of this image of Trearddur Bay seawall. Photograph: Didired/GuardianWitness

Aberystwyth’s promenade wind shelter slipping into the sea. Photograph: Will Andrews/GuardianWitness

Erosion at Haulover Beach Park in Miami-Dade County.

Similar observations along Florida’s vulnerable coast.

But in South Florida — Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties — concerns over erosion and the quest for sand are particularly urgent for one reason: there is almost no sand left offshore to replenish the beaches.

In these communities, sand is far from disposable; it is a precious commodity. So precious, in fact, that it has set off skirmishes among counties and has unleashed an intense hunt for more offshore sand by federal, state and local officials who are already fretting over the next big storm. No idea is too far-fetched in this quest, not even a proposal to grind down recycled glass and transform it into beach sand. The once-shelved idea is now being reconsidered by Broward County.

The situation is so dire that two counties to the north — St. Lucie and Martin — are being asked to donate their own offshore sand in the spirit of neighborliness.

“You have counties starting wars with each other over sand,” said Kristin Jacobs, the Broward County mayor, who has embraced the recycled glass idea as a possible stopgap. “Everybody feels like these other counties are going to steal their sand.”

Duval St. in Key West. Sections that were once dry now flood after rainstorms.

Florida Trend:

For more than 100 years, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have monitored tide gauges placed along Key West’s western shoreline. The precise gauges, among the oldest in the country, indicate that over the last century, the sea has risen by nearly nine inches at Key West.

The effects in the Keys are familiar to residents: Low-lying areas such as the northern part of Duval Street, which once were dry after rainstorms, now flood regularly. Low seawalls are often crested by high tides.

15 Responses to “Beach Erosion Mute Evidence of Sea Level Rise”

  1. rayduray Says:

    “The Rising Sea” by Orrin Pilkey is quite a good read on likely sea rise scenarios for the U.S. Southeast among other locations. The book is written by a scientist, but is very accessible to the layperson.

    Dr. Pilkey is a professor emeritus at Duke University. One of the factoids he shared about the Carolina coast is that historically, one inch of sea level rise has meant a retreat of the beach front of 1,500 feet on average in many locations. Not a convenient truth for Carolina beach front developers and realtors, eh?

    The book:

    The “Cliff Notes” version (pun intended):

    Quoting the Coastal Care article, Pilkey writes:

    “The mainland slope in the state of North Carolina ranges from 1:10,000 on the northern Outer Banks to 1:500 at Kure Beach near Cape Lookout. That means that in theory a 1-foot sea level rise could move the Outer Banks shoreline back almost 2 miles in contrast to a mere 500-foot retreat at Kure Beach. The point is that a very small sea level rise will cause a large shoreline retreat. Sea level rise is not to be easily dismissed.”

    • dumboldguy Says:

      “Sea level rise is not to be easily dismissed.” Then why does daveburton dismiss it? Could it be that he is in the employ of those Carolina beach front developers and realtors for whom sea level rise is such an inconvenient truth? He prevaricates and obfuscates because he is a whore for NC-20?

      Thanks for a good link to Pilkey’s thoughts—from the “Cliff notes”:

      “Miami illustrates a rather spectacular problem facing many cities that must try to preserve themselves as sea level threatens to inundate them. The city sits atop the highly porous Miami Limestone, which allows water to flow freely through it. If a seawall were built to hold back the sea, the water level would be the same on both sides of the wall. Instead of seawalls, Miami will have to build dams that surround the city and extend to the base of the porous rock formation, greatly increasing the cost of response to a rising sea. It may some day be called the Great Miami Dam!”

      If everyone remembers, it was not too long ago that daveburton was talking about how Miami “averaged” six feet above sea level and would not be submerged for “centuries”. Was Dave perhaps thinking that The Great Miami Dam would save Miami?

  2. I live on the east coast and you can see the encroachment anywhere there’s not multi-million dollar sand pumping projects. Even in those locations, the sand is now pumped to the height of previous sea walls. The sea level rise adds the launching pad. But it’s the storms that carry off the sand, doing quite a bit more damage than you’d expect. Just look at the most vulnerable places, like the Outer Banks, for example. There you have a thinning strand of islands that are, more and more frequently, breached by encroaching seas.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      I grew up in NJ and often visited the NJ shore. Since moving to VA, I have visited DE, MD, VA, NC, and SC beaches and have seen what you mention in your comment. I can remember a time some 40 years ago when a sustained winter storm in Myrtle Beach carried away 150+ feet of beach and created a 10 foot “cliff” that required the construction of wooden staircases so that the beach could be accessed. The folks we were visiting said, “No big deal—it’ll wash back in”. Since the beach was 100 yards wide before the erosion and there were no houses on the dunes, they weren’t too concerned. I would bet that things have changed and the “buffer” is gone there, as it is in so many places.

    • The picture of the Casino Pier roller coaster is indelibly etched in my mind.
      Katrina, Sandy, Midwest drought, Colorado burning, Texas. West Coast drought. Or maybe its just the video of the airborne SUV in Wisconsin that hit a huge road buckle in the extreme heat. By now, there is not one image, but many. Its so big that everyone can now see local evidence, if one steps back a bit. The big picture is whats hard to grasp.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Yup, and the aerial pics of the endless expanses of nicely spaced wells in WY (1/3 abandoned) and the tar sands devastation are etched in my mind as well.

  3. jimbills Says:

    Related –
    Massive Antarctic Glacier Uncontrollably Retreating, Study Suggests

    • dumboldguy Says:

      References to this scary new study on Pine Island are popping up everywhere. Are things in the antarctic moving to a new phase? Will the deniers soon have to abandon their “BUT-BUT, in the antarctic….” arguments? Stay tuned.

      • greenman3610 Says:

        am going to be asking around on that.
        for now

        Dr. Alley has a good sequence about halfway or 2/3 in about pine island and the west antarctic sheet.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          45 minutes well spent. We have seen parts of this before but not the whole thing (?) Excellent presentation from Dr. Alley—-it’s hard to believe that he and daveburton have arisen from the same gene pool.

          Dr. Alley’s take? Watch Pine Island and the West Antarctic!

  4. ubrew12 Says:

    Hawaii is having the same problem: Houses and 50+ yr old ironwood trees washing into the ocean.

  5. […] 2014/01/17: PSinclair: Beach Erosion Mute Evidence of Sea Level Rise […]

  6. Hank Justice Says:

    Well, all this hullabaloo is about preserving what man has created, not nature.
    Building along such shore lines is not natural. This is the seas response to man.
    Man does not rule the seas. Look at all the undersea cities foundations found
    around the world. This has been going on for thousands of years. The rapid sea level rise during the great Holocene Transgression, the average sea level rise was around 10mm per year for over 10,000 years. We are at about 3mm per year rise, the thickness of two dimes. Surely, we can adapt to that without breaking a sweat. However, many communities just now “woke up” and are screaming this is a disaster. Going back a century, no one seemed concerned, except maybe Holland or Venice, Italy.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: