Warming Winds, Rising Tides: Tuvalu Last Updated on 2008-09-07 00:00:00The 11,000 Tuvaluans live on nine coral atolls totaling 10 square miles scattered over 500,000 square miles of ocean south of the equator and west of the International Dateline. Tuvalu is the smallest of all nations, except for the Vatican. Tuvalu has no industry, burns little petroleum, and creates less carbon pollution than a small town in America. This tiny place nevertheless is on the front line of climate change. The increasing intensity of tropical weather, the increase in ocean temperatures, and rising sea level -- a
Tuvaluans face the possibility of being among the first climate refugees, although they never use that term. Former assistant Environmental minister and now assistant secretary for Foreign Affairs Paani Laupepa said he felt threatened. "Our whole culture will have to be transplanted.
"Sea level rise is the greatest problem. Tuvalu's highest elevation is 4.6 meters --... More »
Warming Winds, Rising Tides: Florida and the Atlantic Coast Last Updated on 2008-09-07 00:00:00
The entire coast of Florida is threatened by rising seas and stronger surges during storms. This sandy shore north of Miami at Dania Beach is being washed away by a normal high tide. On a clear day in April 2001.
This casts doubt on the future of the apartments and homes that crowd the East Coast. Rising sea level is also driving sea water into the Everglades, inundating mangroves, and threatening all low lying islands. Thus Florida and the Keys are the U.S. equivalent of the many island nations of the Indo-Pacific who face rising seas.
Cape Hatteras: Warming Winds, Rising TidesLast Updated on 2008-09-07 00:00:00
To the north on Cape Hatteras, the US Park Service saw the futility of protecting America's most famous lighthouse from the eroding shoreline. In 1999 it moved Hatteras Light back 2800 feet from the surf. Erosion along Cape Hatteras North Carolina has been about 12 feet per year in recent years, leaving house after house stranded in the surf, awaiting its destruction. This is due to a combination of rising sea level and stronger storms and hurricanes, effects of increasing warmth in the atmosphere and ocean. Federal insurance guarantees money for rebuilding, and local officials continue to bulldoze sand back onto beaches -- both of which actions actually increase erosion damage, according to scientists.
Warming Winds, Rising Tides: Venice ItalyLast Updated on 2008-09-07 00:00:00
Tourists wading across the Plaza San Marco -- a common event in Venice, the European symbol of both rising seas and the difficulty of preventing damage to irreplaceable coastal cities. Venice has been sinking for hundreds of years, perched as it is on unstable sediments of the Lagoon. But the rising Adriatic Sea is rapidly exacerbating the problem. At the current rate the sea will rise a foot in this century. Italian officials made the decision to construct elaborate tide dams at Lagoon entrances. Environmental groups and some scientists warn that higher tide and storm levels will soon overcome these defenses, while the dams may isolate the Lagoon from the natural flushing it needs to remain a viable ecosystem. More »
Pushing the Boundaries of Life: Delaware BayLast Updated on 2008-09-03 00:00:00
High tide on Delaware Bay presses migrating shorebirds against storm sewer outfalls near Cape May. The sandpipers, red knots, and turnstones that migrate to the Arctic in numbers approaching one million, already face declines in horseshoe crab eggs, their principal food along these shores. Rising sea level now is reducing the area for foraging, and could affect the success of this annual flight thousands of miles from South America to the Arctic.
Even more drastic changes are occurring in Chesapeake Bay to the south, where sea level rise is more than twice the world average -- and predicted to rise about 8 inches in just 25 years. Crucial islands like Poplar and Smith, and wetlands like the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, are succumbing to the encroaching waters. More »
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