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Updated: 5/14/2009 - 4:05 AM

Global warming bringing L.I. down and sea levels up
Scientists model local impacts on towns and tidal environments
  11 comments below

Nature Conservancy scientist Nicole Maher (right) uses a jackhammer to install surface elevation table (SET) benchmarks within the salt marsh at Bass Creek. Helping with the installations were representatives from the state Department of Conservation and the USGS. Stephen Sabatino photo
Shelter Island, along with its neighbors, is sinking. According to scientists at the Nature Conservancy, sea levels are rising faster than they have at a local level in a very long time.

What are the possible consequences? That is something Conservancy scientists Sarah Newkirk, a coastal team leader, and Nicole Maher, a wetlands specialist, aim to figure out and model for Long Island's decision makers, including town, county and state officials, regulators and planning agencies.

According to their research, the global mean sea rise for the past century has been between 1.5 and 1.8 millimeters per year. For Long Island, that number is 2.73 millimeters per year, but has increased nearly twofold to 5.2 in the past 20 years. While that might not sound like much, Dr. Newkirk's high-end projections for sea level rise are as follows: 7 inches by the 2020s, 23 inches by the 2050s and 45 inches by the 2080s. These numbers used to be thought of as low probability, high impact events, Dr Newkirk said, but, “I think the low probability part is becoming less and less true.”

This diagram shows how USGS technicians track the change in marsh elevation using the surface elevation tables by measuring the distance between the marsh surface and the base of a permanent benchmark. Courtesy United States Geological Survey

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Hazards U.S. (HAZUS) software models, were a category 3 hurricane like 1938's Long Island Express to hit 70 years from now, it could cause $160 billion worth of property damage. That is a conservative estimate, Dr. Newkirk said, because HAZUS uses national average property values. Suffolk County's values are higher.

While it might be a very long time before significant parts of Long Island are underwater, Dr. Newkirk said it might not be long at all before parts of the South Shore face immediate inundation. By the 2020s, Dr. Newkirk said, areas in Mastic peninsula, for example, will be inundated at high tide every day. “It doesn't mean people's houses are going to be underwater,” Dr. Newkirk said. “What it does mean is that people's basements will be wet every day.”

She answered her own question about whether that is a significant impact by saying, “It certainly would be bothersome to me.”

Dr. Maher and Dr. Newkirk pointed to greenhouse gasses as contributing to sea level rise through various mechanisms. They cause thermal expansion in the oceans, meaning that as water gets warmer, its volume increases even if the amount of water stays the same. It therefore covers a larger area than it would if it were colder.

The gasses speed up the melting of the polar icecaps. That both adds more water to the oceans, and because there is less ice and snow to reflect the sun's energy, facilitates more thermal expansion. It creates what Dr. Maher called “a positive feedback loop. More warming creates conditions that further accelerate the warming.”

And because the ice is melting, the northern part of the geologic plate on which Long Island sits is gradually rising, having been relieved of the ice caps' weight. Long Island sits on the southern end of that plate, and in a seesaw effect, as northern Canada “rebounds,” Long Island sinks further, which also helps account for its accelerated sea level rise as measured by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS tide gauge results have been “very similar” be they in the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island Sound or Peconic or Gardiner's Bay, Dr. Maher said.

Dr. Newkirk has used this information to develop an online interactive server using Google Maps to take advantage of Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) topographic data on Suffolk County. She plans to hold a “stakeholder workshop” next month to roll out the maps for Long Island's South Shore from the Nassau/Suffolk border to Montauk Point. Given adequate funding, she expects to expand her research into the Peconic Estuary some time late this fall.

The maps can model coastal hazard risk and sea level rise to help inform governmental decisions on planning and resource management. “It's great to have all this information on sea level rise but then what do you do as a decision maker?” Dr. Newkirk asked. She added that it would be helpful to visualize different scenarios in three dimensions rather than sifting through pages of data. When the maps are rolled out next month, she said she would happily offer additional training sessions and hoped that Long Island towns would use the data when they revise their comprehensive plans.

To be able to have the maps and projection models means “We really have no excuse for inaction,” Dr. Newkirk said. “We're able to project this. We're able to look into the future, at least a little bit. There's some uncertainty in the models. We know this is happening to some extent. We also know that the projections that we're illustrating on this project are fairly conservative.”

While Dr. Newkirk's part of the project has focussed more on development and planning, Dr. Maher's concentrates much more on resource management, particularly on salt marshes. Of them, Dr. Maher said, “These coastal wetlands support the health of our coastal ecosystem and the recreational and economic activities that depend on it.”

The marshes protect water quality, are part of the coastal food web, provide habitats for wildlife and protect upland and shoreline areas from flooding and erosion. Dr. Maher has been studying whether salt marsh growth has kept up with sea level rise. If they do not, the upper marshes convert to low marsh species and the lower marsh could become unvegetated mudflat or open water. Historically, Dr. Maher said salt marshes have kept up with sea level rise, given clean water to promote healthy marsh grass root growth and space to migrate landward. There are ongoing experiments, including one in Jamaica Bay, to determine what possible restoration strategies might be available to help marshes regain lost elevation.

These experiments were started in part because data collected on Fire Island from 2002 to 2007 show marshes there losing their race against sea level rise. The Nature Conservancy has also developed a network of Surface Elevation Tables, some of which are based in Mashomack Preserve, to identify marsh geochemistry and to determine what other processes might be contributing to the elevation shortfall. This might include marsh peat decomposition or root decay or collapse.

A marsh might be more susceptible to weakening or collapsing altogether if its root system is collecting nutrients from lawn care products that have run off either into groundwater or into the bay. Salt marshes, Dr. Maher explained, grow in low nutrient environments. They grow deep and extensive root systems in order to sustain themselves. If the nutrients are readily available, that will not happen. “They're not building that elevation to keep up with sea level rise,” Dr. Maher said. “They're not building the network that holds the marsh peat together and can resist erosion by waves or wakes.”

She recommends installation and maintenance of vegetative buffers to keep lawn care nutrients out of marshes. According to an Environmental Law Institute report, buffers of between 30 and 100 feet “will remove pollutants consistently.” It recommends longer buffer distances for steep slopes and high intensity land use.

Vegetative buffers may not seem ideal because of the property space they consume but Dr. Maher said they are better than some other options. “As sea levels rise, people are sort of more likely to want to hold on to the coast that they have,” she said. “And if they install bulkheads and other shoreline hardening structures, it may starve the marshes downstream,” creating a scalloping effect by preventing those downstream marshes from keeping up with sea level rise.

Sea level rise is real, the scientists say. Their research shows frightening possibilities. “We know that something is going to happen along these lines,” Dr. Newkirk said. “If you have that information this far in advance, we have really no excuse not to prepare ourselves and prepare our communities in a way that allows both the human community and the natural community to survive and prosper.”

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11 comments found

QqRvjtKojR : 10/30/2012
Zbr1td , [url=]shqgfqtczwqx[/url], [link=]uompnbaatmwr[/link],

rQSrRrsAkfuch : 10/28/2012
> strange obesssion with cavesI been wondering that myself. I blame distant ancestors. I have the same desire for open fires, the sea crashing onto the shore, an admiration of big old oak trees .Clearly I need therapy. A week at a 5 star hotel in Hong Kong should do it. Can't be having this nature stuff in the blood.

mvpWXhrHFLw : 10/1/2012
lVXhQs , [url=]jowvopkfadya[/url], [link=]zonnhiozeqhh[/link],

MFnPlAGvstCK : 9/29/2012
Y7MVIv , [url=]kwcpjpokdtra[/url], [link=]patyblluallt[/link],

iioRMXVVoUyBJeYBGCG : 9/28/2012
> strange ooisssebn with cavesI been wondering that myself. I blame distant ancestors. I have the same desire for open fires, the sea crashing onto the shore, an admiration of big old oak trees .Clearly I need therapy. A week at a 5 star hotel in Hong Kong should do it. Can't be having this nature stuff in the blood.

Global Warming and LI sea levels : 5/8/2009
5.2 in the past 20 years.... PLEASE, THIS IS NOT A RACE AGAINST SEA RISE THIS IS ONE FIFTH OF AN INCH and is a Mean measurement which means sometimes it is higher, sometimes lower.

Invest $ 160 000 000 000 : 5/8/2009
Invest 10% of the $ 160 000 000 000, and plant trees in Amazonia, Australia, New Zealand and the emergency stop, factory working on the stone coal and oil! Gentlemen that I need to congratulate ourselves, "we destroy ourselves, but dollars and gold, diamonds and platinum will remain after us will only be quick and cross winds carry all over the planet. We have three seconds to 12 hours, there is no thinking or planning, the urgent need to make this, you will be dying who also flies, and those who are self made shelters, on the Alps, Canada .. they will get the first row of dying, because the the toxic gas tuck in well-protected buildings, if Laz yourself, let the family say the truth, because their children do not know what to expect evil death, thank you and regards

If you like your children, relatives and friends? : 5/8/2009
I conclude that beside the collector table all the other sollar devices are my solutions – the solutions of my era until 2009. That has made a real boom in the solar practise. Today begins my new era in the solar practise, because it demands the crisis for invested to be returned quickly. I'm giving to the world the greatest miracle of this civilization, my top architectural projects with the new Stanicic hit Sonyo PV modul that makes the architectural construction lasting for 100 years, and in PV modul the owners can change solar cells like bulbs, even daily for maximal business and maximal beauty of domestic cloth, on which you can write messages with PV moduls in any way we can imagine. Goal of this miracle is maximal saving of the land and architectural surface, and to produce 10 times more surfaces that will feed 9,5 billion people in 2050, even more. The miracle becomes the world standard for rescuing of retainable development, that consciously and intentionally Rio+10 didn't want to save, and also the conference in Poznan, even though they had my first Eco Plus Energy City without CO2 for a 60 000 people living there, with which I based green world cities Dontang in China, San Francisco, Abu Dhabi and others that are under my city standard for more than 50%. Mister Adolf Wuerth, it is possibly that destiny of mankind is in Your hands, the academic and really friendly visionary staff, that has recognized, where great ideas stand, because without them there would be no such a letter like this one, which gives the solution for quick exit from this crisis. In the name of this Planet with its 6,5 people and of the world moral money –the most looked-for matter today, I CALL, for the second time (the first time it was my comment about Al Gore, when he was awarded Nobel Prize) all the scientists of the USA and of the whole world, as well as those ones, who have already been fighting, (because Al Gore, The UN Panel, Hansen and the complete Committee are immoral and insincere) together with me for the Planet safety and its 6,5 billion people, to RISE UP at once against the robbery of my top knowledge – 5 times greater than that of the whole world, because they all are able to eliminate only 20% of CO2 emission, while I can do it 100% thoroughly. The Nobel Prize Committee are pretending to be insane not to know about unsuccessful work of the UN to stop the climate changes in the course of 42 years. If they had a bit of insight of the catastrophic UN and UN Panel work, they would never even figure, and let alone to UN and Al Gore award a Nobel Prize. The aim of the bought Nobel Prize was to bring Al Gore for the president of the USA instead of B.Obama. The honest UN Panel experts stood up against Al Gore, who in the first news, alone won the Nobel Prize. Later on the revolt was suffocated through the information that also UN Panel was awarded. Then after my comment it was published that Al Gore won some lauerate, not the Nobel Prize. After that Al Gore was expelled out of the UN Panel and all UN conferences on climate changes, as well as from all the world media. He was in Ljubljana, where no word was spoken of the Nobel Prize. With bracelets to attend The Live Earth Concerts (Al Gore) and the bracelets propose for Nobel Prize for Peace, not to beg in the streets, is an engaged pose, with what was lost any possibility to stop climate changes. To ask and get the Nobel Prize is uncultural. Billions of bracelets is a sea drop toward billions of my RH2FS in the whole sea; when the clamte change is extinguished by sea, or else to weigh either to a sea drop or to a sea give the Nobel Prize. How the Nobel Prize was bought for Al Gore, speaks the fact that today's potencial candidate for the president of the World Bank is Bono. Now Al Gore is hiding behind B.Obama.'s “Have committed early enactment of mandatory, economy-wide restriction on emissions, implemented through tradable permits and designed to reduce emission by 60 to 80 procent below 1990 levels by 2050.“ Al Gore won the Nobel Prize because he still today claims, that he has no idea, when the climate change will be stopped, because to reduce CO2 on 80% level the climate changes don't stop, so he has to give the Nobel Prize back, because, if there is no cure for cancer and AIDS, as well as for CO2, there is no award to anybody. That's why The Nobel Prize Committee deserves to be dismissed, because they are doing a job, for which they haven't a slight idea what it is like, as well as what is to be done with climate and CO2. It is obvious that Al Gore, the UN Panel, the Nobel Prize Committee and Judges are astray birds of prey of my projects – my clean brilliants – another proof is my account for 800 000€ for the stolen projects, still I was given only 40€. If Al Gore had respected with me signed contract on 25.06.2007, today he would have been the president of the USA, CO2 would be reduced on 50% and saved half of the total damages of the climate changes from 800 billions.

CO2 gas threatens to kill 6 500 000 000 people : 5/8/2009
Even father of the climate changes James Hansen hasn't got projects to remove the surplus of CO2. He only knows to suggest that thermo-electric power plants have to stop working until 2025 in the USA, and in the rest of the world in 2030. It is interesting to conclude that father of the climate changes wasn't awarded the Nobel Prize rather than A.Gore Junior. Not even the UN Conference in Poznan, Poland in the end of 2008 hasn't helped to reduce CO2 more than 20% and it won't be done until 2020. Poznan is a criminal argument that knowledge of the whole today world will not or doesn't know how to save the Earth and 6,5 billion people, but I do know how and I want to, but they don't allow me to save the world from destruction. The UN Conference criminals are pretending to be insane, as if nothing ever happened between me, the UN Panel and Al Gore. And the crime did happen., for example: The Nobel Prize was awarded to the UN Panel and Al Gore, for only their humble knowledge for stopping only 20% of water, while the rest of even 80% is floodding a 6,5 billion people of the largest city and will drown all them. If the whole world's knowledge is able to reduce only 20% of CO2 emission, it means in ten years we shall all be killed, and it must be the greatest scientific crime and unremembered shame of the recent civilization. The UN Panel and the Conference in Poznan criminals as well as the Nobel Prize Committee must be taken to the International Court. If Al Gore on 09.02.2007 publically announced that he would give 25 million$ to anyone to eliminate CO2 emission from the air, then what kind of a stupid Nobel Prize Committee was it to reward Al Gore with 20 million$, in order that he can award someone who should eliminate CO2 emission. Because of this unseen scientific shame, the Nobel Prize should be annuled, as well Sweden must be expelled from the UN. The UN Panel and Al Gore urgently have to give back the stolen Nobel Prize from me, and to allow to my World Award for Sustainability 2006 with its millions of RF2FS to step forward from the monstrous anonimity, to be allowed to save the Planet and its 6,5 million people until 2017. Why? Well, because the recent world knowledge simpy doesn't know how to do it. If there weren't for me today's arcitecture would be without PV. The on going energy crisis with 70% have given birth to my PVT patent P-2889/82 plus architecture energy. After my master's degree in 1990 solar energy industry rapidly has grown up. In 2007 I responded to Rio+10 and and called this energy crisis to save development viability by Project ID2007-00531, with which I found out so called capitalism of eternal happiness instead of current grabbing. I am able to connect uconnectable, ecology and economics directly or indirectly, and I'm giving to anyone a free house and its fully comfort, a free car with free drive gas. This sort of capitalism could accept my ideas just to shut the door to unrenewable energy resources to open their door to renewable energy recources, and the turnover would happen in a minute, the turnover we have been waiting for 40 years. Today my Earth and Mankind have to face two executions at the same time, what gives birth to an idea, again like in '70s, the greatest, humanitary idea. All the other PV are ugly, unefficient, 10 times more expensive and at least five times shorter. Profession and media claim PV to be integrated in new architecture, but it's a lie. There is no integration in this architecture if the above mentioned PV is not in function of transmission, ventilation, energy, self-quantity of humidity, without energy losses. The world architecture still hasn't got that kind of quality, not even the Congress on 25.11.2009 in Erfurt, Germany, even though I based that standard 27 years ago with my P-2889/82, Patent-10 floor building with PV and thermal collectors integration, of which the world dreams still today. With P-132/84 patent I yielded a thermosyphone collector, which is today illegally produced by about ten companies in the world, making their fortune through my knowledge. With my master's degree work – 5 floor building 1990 patent I created the first world tube PV modul, today illegally produced by about ten companies in the world, which have been directly or indirectly copied from my work papers with direct, indirect and diffusive radiation.

Urgently stop using stone Coal and Oil : 5/8/2009
According to our agreement of 10.03.2009 I sent you a suggestion at The Frankfurt Messe ISH for an access to the new solar PV modul making it to be pretty for the Earth and its grounds, as well as for the architecture on the whole market of the world. Die Photowoltaic (PV) is heute technisch gut, aber noch nicht schoen! All humankind is the only species that bases its survival on created energy. With today's energy spending the man has destroyed his atmosphere with CO2, in which condition he is having only ten more years until his death. Fear from dying through CO2, the man is turning rushly toward the Sun and by inexpert plans to put ugly and not maximal business PV moduls across the whole Earth and its architecture, and through such kind of inexpert PV putting on it, and it becomes on that way the source of the world hunger and ugliness. To one world's demise of CO2 into atmosphere inocculate an other demise through famine by desapperaring of the fertile fields under the PV plates are two record-unpardonable foolishness of this civilization, which are CONSCIOUSLY planned today at the same time. It is the highest time, last minute to get up against those ones, who offer to us the PV clear energy for death by famine. There is no difference between the death by CO2 and the death by famine, they are just two deaths at the same time. The time to the general death left to us is being shortened. The man has learned nothing from his past, and the collapse by CO2, that is a two-speed preparing for his own destruction, runnig for insatiable plunder. Fortunately there are lots of people in the world that have been warning about the selfdestruction for years. Nevertheless nobody but me has got the cure for our planet and its 6,5 billions people rescue. Through my knowledge, which is objectively above anybody's, I'm feeling that I am responsible for the Earth saving, by my knowledge right away. I want to save the Earth through my Award for Sustainability 2006, containig millions of RH2FS, which worldwide daily grow up like mushrooms after rain (12 000 in the USA, 400 in EU). Just through these a few hundreds of my giant RH2FS I am the only one who is able to reduce 100% of the CO2 emission until 2015. Because of my top world achievements I am the rightful Nobel Prize Winner for the climate changes, and not Al Gore that on 9.02..2007 asked my awarded RH2FS and received them 31.03.2007 and through them illegally, inexpertly and on a fraud way got the Nobel Prize for them 10.10.2007.

Global warming : 5/8/2009
AN INVITATION TO CONSCIOUS CHANGE AND SAVE MOTHER EARTH AND ITS CHILDREN 1960 The first ecological organizations and warnings of the experts 1972 The first UN Conference on the enviroment and dangers that threaten to the Earth and its children, more than 6 billions of them 1982 The Second UN Conference on the industry dangers, spending final and limited resources. “Eco development“ was offered 1984 The World Commission gives “The Global Agenda for Changes“, making the Foundation for development, rescuing the planet and its children 1987 Sustainable development was defined that fullfils current needs without withhold possibility for the future generations to fullfil their needs. (F.e. oil. That is why I called today's crisis with my project ID 2007-00531) 1992 The UN Summit in Rio about land gives the Agenda 21 to control the land, the water and the forests, unsustainable resources swallowed by industry, what is the inciting cause of the climate changes That is why we have to connect development to the enviroment, they have to be coordinated in order to save the Earth and 6 billion people. 1996 The Conference Rio + 5 in New Yourk concluded that a small progress was made in protecting the planet and its children. (Unfortunately even after 36 years of crying calls there is no change in consciousness in order to save the Earth and its people. 2002 The Worl Summit Rio+5 for one goal only – sustainable development of the Earth and its children. 60.000 delegates and 170 world leaders. (Even after 42 years they don't want to change their criminal consciousness and arrogant behavior to save the Earth and 6,5 billion people. 2003 Disappointed in general scientific consciousness of the whole world I have made a decision alone to fight for rescue of the planet and its people with my giant projects., applying the patent P20030072 I compete for the prize, so I was again called to compete the following year, at a regular competetion. Until 2006 I made millions of typical RH2FS and I applied them all for the world award 2006, when I won The World Award for Sustainability for my clean energy giant projects that reduce 100% of the CO2 until the year 2017, by which I only and I alone can save the Earth and its people with RH2FS.

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