Coastal research community suggests ways to deal with severe storms, coastal erosion and climate change

Aug 08, 2013 by Amy Hodges

(Phys.org) —Global sea level is rising at an accelerated rate in response to climate change, and to ensure a sustainable future, society must learn to anticipate and adapt to the dynamics of a rapidly evolving coastal system, according to a new article from the international coastal research community.

The article, "Coastal Processes and Environments Under Sea-Level Rise and Changing Climate: Science to Inform Management," appears in the August edition of GSA Today, the monthly magazine of the Geological Society of America. The article summarizes key takeaways from the Joint Penrose/Chapman Conference hosted last spring by Rice's Shell Center for Sustainability, the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of London, the Society for Sedimentary Research and the Geological Society of America.

Eighty-four coastal and social scientists from 12 countries gathered for presentations aimed at synthesizing knowledge of the causes and impacts of sea-level rise, and other influences on coastal regions and to engage in discussion on how science can and should inform the public and policymakers about the realities of sea-level rise and .

"Extreme events have contributed to loss of life, billions of dollars in damage to infrastructure, massive taxpayer funding for recovery and degradation of our ecosystems," said John Anderson, the W. Maurice Ewing Professor of Oceanography at Rice, director of Rice's Shell Center and the article's author. "As scientists, we feel a responsibility to inform government, the public and the private sector about the impacts of and and the risks they pose, including considering the most appropriate responses."

Key points from the report include:

  • Current rates of sea-level rise in many regions are unprecedented relative to rates of the last several thousand years, and scientific projections show it will continue to rise over this century and alter the coasts.
  • Sea-level rise will exacerbate the impacts of extreme events, such as hurricanes and storms, over the long term.
  • Increasing human activity, such as land-use change and water-management practices, adds stress to already fragile ecosystems and can affect coasts just as much as sea-level rise.
  • To secure a sustainable future, society must learn to anticipate, live with and adapt to the dynamics of a rapidly evolving coastal system.
  • Well-informed policy decisions are imperative and should be based upon the best available science; they should recognize the need for involvement of key stakeholders and relevant experts.

Anderson and his fellow researchers hope their recommendations will influence future policy decisions regarding planning for severe storms and the evolution of coastlines around the world.

"Coastal change is not a prediction—it is very real and in many parts of the world it is occurring at alarming rates," Anderson said. "We strongly believe that future policies should be based on the best available science, including analysis of our coastal areas, geohazard maps and other accessible information systems that can be understood and used by planners to predict change, and management approaches to minimize costs and social and ecosystem impacts, given the inherent uncertainty of future coastal evolution."

Explore further: The best defense against catastrophic storms: Mother Nature, researchers say

More information: www.geosociety.org/gsatoday

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Storminess helps coastal marshes withstand sea level rise

Feb 11, 2013

Rising sea levels are predicted to threaten many coastal sea marshes around the world in the coming decades as the Earth's climate warms. In addition to accelerating sea level rise, global climate change is predicted to increase ...

Mangroves could survive sea-level rise if protected

Jul 31, 2013

Human activity is currently a bigger threat to mangroves, and the natural defences they provide against storm surges and other coastal disasters, than rising sea levels, according to a new study.

Recommended for you

US delays decision on Keystone pipeline project

21 hours ago

The United States announced Friday a fresh delay on a final decision regarding a controversial Canada to US oil pipeline, saying more time was needed to carry out a review.

New research on Earth's carbon budget

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Results from a research project involving scientists from the Desert Research Institute have generated new findings surrounding some of the unknowns of changes in climate and the degree to which ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

LinkedIn membership hits 300 million

The career-focused social network LinkedIn announced Friday it has 300 million members, with more than half the total outside the United States.

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...