68ºF

The high seas are getting higher

Galveston has a 3rd place finish and that’s not good

Miami, USA - September 29, 2016: Aerial image of the Hard rock Stadium Miami located at 347 Don Shula Drive home to the Miami Dolphins football team.
Miami, USA - September 29, 2016: Aerial image of the Hard rock Stadium Miami located at 347 Don Shula Drive home to the Miami Dolphins football team. (felixmizioznikov)

I know, sea level is not exactly exciting, but think about this: the higher the sea, the more water available for a hurricane to push toward the coast. The higher the sea, the more trouble our inland flooding is going to have draining into the bay. Higher storm surges and more disastrous flooding are enough to make us at least consider where the oceans will be in the next 80 years.

Speaking of which, the picture above is Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, host of this year’s Super Bowl, which sits on a canal and is vulnerable to tidal flooding. Climate Central studies indicate this may well become an annual occurrence by 2070 given rising tides and higher seas. From “Hard Rock” to soft water!

Just this month, the 2019 Virginia Institute of Marine Science (a division of William & Mary College) published their “report card” on coastal cities and sea-level rise. Of 32 reporting stations (via tidal gauges), Grand Isle came in with the highest rate of sea-level rise last year while Rockport finished second and Galveston third. This is not a horse race where you want to win, place or show.

Here’s the one chart I’ll display and you can find plenty at their site.

Galveston Sea Levels are Going UP
Galveston Sea Levels are Going UP

Here’s how to read the above chart:

Bottom line is the lines trend upward
Bottom line is the lines trend upward

The orange line is the key (the others have to do with confidence levels and observations). That orange line indicates sea levels are going up and Texas Climate News explains:

“The three highest rates of sea-level rise in 2019 occurred along the Gulf Coast at Grand Isle, La., (7.93 millimeters per year, or mm/yr) and at Rockport (6.95 mm per yr) and Galveston (6.41 mm per yr), Texas. Rockport also topped all 32 stations in its rate of acceleration, at 0.26 millimeters per year per year, or mm/yr2. If this continues, sea level (at Rockport) will be 0.82 meters (2.69 feet) higher in 2050 compared to 1992. Grand Isle and Galveston showed significant but much more moderate acceleration rates in 2019, at 0.05 mm/yr2 and 0.09 mm/yr2, respectively. The 2050 projections for sea-level rise at these sites is thus appreciably lower: 0.54 meters (1.77 feet) at Grand Isle and 0.51 meters (1.67 feet) at Galveston.”

If you do the math, that adds up to three feet by the end of this century and probably closer to 4′ because these things are not perfectly linear. Climate Central has an online sea-level risk assessment program that is not only pretty easy to navigate but as fun as it is interesting. You can analyze charts like this one and it’s a great learning tool. Look for the “Surging Seas Risk Finder.” You’ll find information like this:

An example of multi-year flood risks in the future
An example of multi-year flood risks in the future

So just what is causing these sea level rises? Arctic ice sheets melting, the ocean water getting warmer and thus expanding, changes in the ocean floor and speed increases or decreases of the ocean currents. All of these play a role and our carbon footprint affects all of them.

Frank

Email me and follow me on Facebook!


About the Author: