North Carolina ignores science in sea level planning

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:48 PM GMT on June 12, 2012

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An interesting political battle is underway in North Carolina on how to plan for 21st century sea level rise, newsobserver.com reports. Sea level rise scientists commonly cite one meter (3.3 feet) as the expected global sea level rise by 2100, and more than a dozen science panels from coastal states, including a state-appointed science panel in North Carolina, agree. However, a coastal economic development group called NC-20, named for the 20 coastal counties in North Carolina, attacked the report, saying the science was flawed. NC-20 says the state should rely only on historical trends of sea level rise, and not plan for a future where sea level rise might accelerate. North Carolina should plan for only 8 inches of rise by 2100, based on the historical trend in Wilmington, NC, the group says. Republican state legislators introduced a bill that follows this logic, requiring the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission to make development plans assuming sea level rise will not accelerate. On Thursday, a state senate committee signed off on the bill, sending it to the full Senate. NC-20 also successfully made an "intense push" to get the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management, which is using a $5 million federal grant to analyze the impact of rising water, to lower its worst-case sea level rise scenario from 1 meter (39 inches) to 15 inches by 2100.


FIgure 1. Global sea level rise from 1992 - April 2012, as measured by three satellite instruments (TOPEX, Jason-1, and Jason-2.) Sea level rise has been relatively constant at about 3.1 mm per year (1.2 inches per decade) during this time period. The big downward dip during 2010 is due to the fact that year had a record amount of precipitation over land areas. By 2011, that precipitation had run-off into the oceans, bringing sea level back up again. Image credit: University of Colorado Sea Level Research Group.

Commentary
East Carolina University geologist Stan Riggs, a science panel member and coastal science expert, said of the proposed legislation, “We’re throwing this science out completely, and what’s proposed is just crazy for a state that used to be a leader in marine science. You can’t legislate the ocean, and you can’t legislate storms.” Our climate change blogger, Dr. Ricky Rood, had this to say in his latest post: "I would dismiss the proposed law as an attempt to legislate away that which stands in the way of our desires to consume and build for our personal imperatives. I would dismiss it as politics and note the names of the un-serious politicians for the next election." I agree with both of these assessments. The best science we have argues the planet will continue to warm, melting icecaps, causing accelerated sea level rise. Between 1900 - 2007, global sea level rose at 1.7 mm per year (Bindoff et al., 2007). Between 1993 - 2012, sea level rise accelerated to 3.1 mm per year, a 75% increase over the 20th century rate. If this accelerated rate continues to 2100, global sea level rise will be 10.7", which is higher than the 8" rise North Carolina is being told to plan for. The continuing accelerating trend in Greenland ice loss since 2000 I blogged about last month should make anyone leery of betting that sea level rise will not accelerate even more in the coming decades. Betting that sea level rise won't accelerate this century is like betting that a slowly intensifying tropical storm will maintain that slow rate of intensification, ignoring that the majority of the computer models are predicting the storm will rapidly intensify into a Category 3 hurricane at landfall. Sure, sometimes the models are wrong, but there is good science behind their predictions. If we wait until storm begins its rapid intensification to act, it will be a very costly mistake. The most sound action would be to prepare for the very plausible bad outcome our science is saying is most likely, instead of putting all of our chips on the low-probability, good-for-business outcome we hope for.

Sea, No Evil
Comedian Steven Cobert has a humorous piece on the new North Carolina sea level legislation in his June 4, 2012 Cobert Report. He uses the phrase "Sea, No Evil" to describe the affair. Some quotes:

"It would be a tragedy to lose precious coastal wildlife habitats to coastal flooding. Those habitats should be lost to developers' bulldozers."

"If your science gives you a result that you don't like, pass a law that the result is illegal--problem solved!"

Comedy Central reports on the recent decision by Virginia lawmakers to phase out use of the terms "climate change" and "sea level rise."

Resources:
Scientific America blog on the North Carolina sea level rise battle.
Wunderground's Greenland page.
Wunderground's sea level rise page.

The Atlantic is quiet
There are no threat areas to discuss in the Atlantic today. The NOGAPS model is predicting formation of a tropical tropical depression in the Western Caribbean this weekend, and takes the storm northwards into Florida early next week. None of the other models is going along with this idea, but there is some support for a broad area of low pressure developing in the Western Caribbean early next week in some of the other models. The waters offshore of North Carolina may be another region to watch, late this week, along the edge of a cold front moving off the U.S. East Coast.

I'll have a new post Wednesday or Thursday.

Jeff Masters

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955. Daisyworld
4:45 PM GMT on June 25, 2012
Quoting AlKnowing:
The great scientists at "Colbert" and
"Comedy Central" aside, 3.5 mm/year in sea level rise equates to 1/10th of an inch per year, or 1 inch per decade. Considering that sea levels rose at 1/2" per year for 7,000 consecutive years following the end of the last ice age, and then leveled off to ~1/10" per year rise 8,000 years ago, this hardly seems catastrophic.



I would suggest you re-visit your math skills and expand your assessment beyond linear trends.
Member Since: January 11, 2012 Posts: 6 Comments: 849
954. AlKnowing
7:15 PM GMT on June 14, 2012
The great scientists at "Colbert" and
"Comedy Central" aside, 3.5 mm/year in sea level rise equates to 1/10th of an inch per year, or 1 inch per decade. Considering that sea levels rose at 1/2" per year for 7,000 consecutive years following the end of the last ice age, and then leveled off to ~1/10" per year rise 8,000 years ago, this hardly seems catastrophic.

The "alarmist" arguement is even more dubious if you look at paleo temperatures (and CO 2 concentrations) over any reasonable length of geologic time. Even James Hansen's own data (published in 2009) show that over the past 65 million years, the earth has been considerably warmer (than today) over 95% of that time period. (The arctic has only been glaciated for 8 of those 65 million years.)




Member Since: June 12, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
953. NYCoaster
8:46 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Sorry this is a little old but I had to wait 24hrs to be allowed to post.

In my humble opinion if NC intends to use “a $5 million federal grant to analyze the impact of rising water, to lower its worst-case sea level rise scenario from 1 meter (39 inches) to 15 inches by 2100” then fine, be that way.

But NC State Govt should put their money where their mouth is.

In order to receive the grant, the Federal government should require NC to waive any right to request Federal funding to combat sea level rise if, in fact, sea level rises above the rate to reach 15 inches by 2100. NC should be forced to pay if they lose their bet and not be allowed to come crying to the Feds if they do.
Member Since: June 12, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
952. Stormchaser121
4:13 PM GMT on June 13, 2012

Comes from the Caribbean. Looks to hit TX/LA
Member Since: September 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1143
951. Stormchaser121
4:04 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting RitaEvac:
We always see models showing this, but they never show where it's coming from, it just poof shows up in the gulf


Comes from the Caribbean
Member Since: September 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1143
950. Hurricanes305
2:24 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
I believe with all the moisture in the Caribbean right now and the return of a strong MJO pulse to add even more moisture cause air to pile up and get some intense and consistent convection we could see something could organize slowly starting this weekend(as it will be broad and will take some time to tighten up and work its way down to the surface)into a system. After that it will sit in the NW Caribbean then starts to organize a little bit into a moderate T-storm by early next week until a piece of trough come down and pick it up into the GOM where conditions should be favorable (< 15 knots of shear) as it sit under an upper ridge and forms into a hurricane then hit Florida as from Tampa to the Keys by late next week. However its just a theory right now but, it needs to careful come next week. On the possibility of a subtropical system seems possible but is less likely as most of the upper ridging will be focus in the GOM and Caribbean leaving behind dry air and high shear over the east coast.
Member Since: May 25, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2043
949. washingtonian115
2:21 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting jeffs713:

Completely. I just find it amusing people are already claiming to see Debby before Chris has formed... and I wanted to say that I saw Ernesto first.
I-I think I see the storm after Ernesto starting to gather as well in Sudan.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16327
948. Neapolitan
2:17 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
As others have noted, it's not just the anti-science, profit-above-people dolts in North Carolina; Virginia is getting in on the denial-of-truth action, too:
In Virginia, "Jury's Still Out" on Global Warming.

By Charles P. Pierce

Last week, in our weekly recap of what's going on in the various laboratories of democracy, I mentioned that the North Carolina state legislature had moved to combat the effects of global climate change on that state's seacoast by simply declaring that climate change didn't exist as far as the North Carolina state legislature was concerned. Now, it seems, that this revolutionary new approach is catching fire elsewhere. Virginia's losing its salt marshes by the acres, and the primary job of the state's political establishment seems to be that all will be well if they just don't mention why:

To pass the bill, at Stolle's suggestion Northam excised the words "relative sea level rise" from an initial draft of the bill, replacing them with "recurrent flooding" in the final version. Stolle says the change was necessary to ensure the bill focused on the issues Virginia politicians can handle--flooding and not those they cannot address-- global warming. In any case, "the jury's still out" on mankind's contribution to global warming, he says. "Other folks can go argue about sea-level rise and global warming," Stolle says. "What matters is people's homes are getting destroyed, and that's what we want to focus on. To think that we are going to stop climate change is absolute hubris. The climate is going to change whether we're here or not."

And, some day, several millennia from now, when nature has begun evolution all over again with the bees, if there are any of those left after we get done with them, the bee lords will conduct earnest symposia about the mounting archaeological evidence that, once on this planet, stupidity was an extinction-level event.

Grow gills, people. Do it immediately.
Isn't it odd that scientifically accurate language is increasingly seen by some as having a liberal bias? :-\
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13442
947. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
2:17 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
946. TAMPASHIELD
2:14 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting Mamasteph:
If anyone remembers at the begining of the season or I should say "preseason" we likened the weather pattern to that of 2004..by going by that scenerio then Chris(charley?) will head to Fla..hence..get those Taampa Shields ready!..Besides thats where my dart landed...lol...


It's going to hit Texas.
Member Since: April 21, 2012 Posts: 4 Comments: 297
945. Mamasteph
2:12 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting Hurricanes305:


Thats means anything that form in the nw caribb. will head NE to Florida
If anyone remembers at the begining of the season or I should say "preseason" we likened the weather pattern to that of 2004..by going by that scenerio then Chris(charley?) will head to Fla..hence..get those Taampa Shields ready!..Besides thats where my dart landed...lol...
Member Since: May 24, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 150
944. hurricane23
2:11 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting sporteguy03:
How can you have any confidence in where any system will go when it has not even formed yet?


Low confidence BUT we can get an idea by the overall syopntic set-up the models appear to be showing if anything does develope.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13621
943. jeffs713
2:09 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting DaytonaBeachWatcher:


Mine is showing All.

Mine is now too... all I had to do is make a post about it.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5869
942. DaytonaBeachWatcher
2:08 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting jeffs713:
Hrm... suddenly the blog is only showing average or better posts. I had it set to "show all"... but every time I change it from "Show Average" to "Show All", it refreshes back to "Show Average". What the...

Who broke the blog?


Mine is showing All.
Member Since: June 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1136
941. jeffs713
2:05 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Hrm... suddenly the blog is only showing average or better posts. I had it set to "show all"... but every time I change it from "Show Average" to "Show All", it refreshes back to "Show Average". What the...

Who broke the blog?
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5869
940. aspectre
2:04 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
905 jeffs713: I think I see pre-Ernesto in a thunderstorm currently over Rwanda.
Forecast Track Ouija Board model
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939. jeffs713
2:03 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting sporteguy03:
How can you have any confidence in where any system will go when it has not even formed yet?

Magic. Hope. Prayers. Wild guesses from throwing at a dart board.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5869
938. sporteguy03
2:02 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
How can you have any confidence in where any system will go when it has not even formed yet?
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937. Hurricanes305
2:02 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting StormTracker2K:
Moisture is gathering down here.



Here comes the MJO
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936. StormTracker2K
2:00 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting Hurricanes305:


Thats means anything that form in the nw caribb. will head NE to Florida


If the trough is strong enough then yes or it could miss and head toward Mexico.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
935. ProgressivePulse
2:00 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Plenty of time to look at the steering however, there is a pretty good chance we'll have something to track next week.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5020
934. StormTracker2K
1:59 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Jedkins just because you haven't had much rain this month doesn't mean the rest of FL is getting hammered nearly everyday.
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
933. Hurricanes305
1:59 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting StormTracker2K:


Here's the break in the ridge the models are showing.





Thats means anything that form in the nw caribb. will head NE to Florida
Member Since: May 25, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2043
932. jeffs713
1:59 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting StormTracker2K:


Here's the break in the ridge the models are showing.




Where is the tropical system?
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5869
931. StormTracker2K
1:58 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting CybrTeddy:
There is no confidence towards anything, but based on the way that everything looks to me with, this is probably a Texas storm, which they still do need the rain. Just hope it isn't another Allison.


If these models are correct in showing a trough by late next week then this has FL written all over it but if it misses the trough then it would head to Mexico. Tricky set up here and one that will have to be monitored over the weekend.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
930. StormTracker2K
1:56 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
I'm now up to 7.46" for the month of June after yesterdays rain. It has rained nearly everyday since the end of May here in Orlando.

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929. STXHurricanes2012
1:55 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
23 is correct the way I see it too!
Member Since: June 4, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 767
928. hurricane23
1:55 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting StormTracker2K:


Here's the break in the ridge the models are showing.





If you say so.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13621
927. pottery
1:55 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting presslord:


Would you like some cheese with your whine?

LOLOL, very clever.... but it's a little early for that sort of thing.
Cheese, I mean.

I note that there is some mischief brewing off the coast of where you are.
The Carolina's or something like that ?.
That's what the Muddles say, anyway.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23895
926. StormTracker2K
1:54 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting hurricane23:


Nope...Based on how things are setting up synoptically i would expect anything that does develope to head towards texas or mexico.


Here's the break in the ridge the models are showing.



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925. CybrTeddy
1:54 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
There is no confidence towards anything, but based on the way that everything looks to me with, this is probably a Texas storm, which they still do need the rain. Just hope it isn't another Allison.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23497
924. jeffs713
1:53 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting hurricane23:


Hey Jeff!
Mornin!
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5869
923. StormTracker2K
1:53 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting hurricane23:


Nope...Based on how things are setting up synoptically i would expect anything that does develope to head towards texas or mexico.


Not with a trough digging in next week. We must be looking totally different models.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
922. wunderkidcayman
1:52 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting hurricane23:


Nope...Based on how things are setting up synoptically i would expect anything that does develope to head towards texas or mexico.

nope Florida Cuba and Bahamas
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 10852
921. jeffs713
1:52 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting washingtonian115:
are you being sarcastic?.:).

Completely. I just find it amusing people are already claiming to see Debby before Chris has formed... and I wanted to say that I saw Ernesto first.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5869
920. StormTracker2K
1:51 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
OZ GFS run.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
919. jeffs713
1:51 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Just a quick rundown of the "system" being forecasted near the end of the models:

GFS - predicts something will form from a persistent tough down by Honduras in the 192-216 hour range. I personally label this one as suspicious, since the system appears to be forming due to a positive feedback from thunderstorm activity (something the GFS has been doing all year). The "storm" actually strengthens after "landfall".

NOGAPS - pulls something up from the western Caribbean around 144 hours, across the FL Keys, and then up the western coast of FL. I can't see the initiation on the model display I found, but it is mildly interesting. (even though I don't trust the nogaps, since it is frequently out to lunch)

ECMWF - really not showing much at the surface at all.

CMC - spins something up off the SE coast in the 96-108 hour range, and slides it up the east coast though 144 hours. Maybe a TD, and it has been pretty consistent forming something... but the CMC is known as "Constantly Making Cyclones" for a reason.

Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5869
918. hurricane23
1:49 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting StormTracker2K:
Confidence is building in the models of a tropical storm affecting FL late next week.

GFS 06Z



Nope...Based on how things are setting up synoptically i would expect anything that does develope to head towards texas or mexico.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13621
917. HurricaneHunterJoe
1:49 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Gotta head out to the V.A. Hospital,see ya ll this pm,have a great day!!
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916. StormTracker2K
1:48 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Moisture is gathering down here.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
915. wunderkidcayman
1:48 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
looking on sattelite 94E has a well defined circulation and seems to be moving in a NW-NNW direction the movement is more visible between 1115Z and 1315Z in the loop
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 10852
914. StormTracker2K
1:46 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Confidence is building in the models of a tropical storm affecting FL late next week.

GFS 06Z

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
913. hurricane23
1:46 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting jeffs713:
Morning everyone!

I think I see pre-Ernesto in a thunderstorm currently over Rwanda.


Hey Jeff!
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13621
912. rmbjoe1954
1:43 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting washingtonian115:
are you being sarcastic?.:).


This may be true of the Brazilian butterfly flutters its wings.
Member Since: June 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1177
911. washingtonian115
1:41 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting jeffs713:
Morning everyone!

I think I see pre-Ernesto in a thunderstorm currently over Rwanda.
are you being sarcastic?.:).
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16327
910. AussieStorm
1:40 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
7 die, 13 missing as rains hit Philippines

HE start of the typhoon season has brought storms and rough seas to the Philippines, killing seven people.

Big waves smashed a passenger boat into rocky outcrops and sunk the vessel, killing at least five people late last night. Another 54 were rescued, officials said today.

The MV Josille 2 sank near an island off the resort town of El Nido in Palawan Island, said coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo.

One of the passengers managed to contact the coast guard, sparking a search that involved the navy and local fishermen.

Navy Commodore Alexander Lopez said authorities were not sure how many people were on board the boat because the dead and rescued had exceeded the manifest count of 46.

Flash floods and strong waves also hit the southern Mindanao region, where 75 fishermen and villagers were rescued. At least 13 others were missing, regional military spokesman Major Jake Obligado said. He said search and rescue operations were ongoing.
Three days of flooding in several southern provinces displaced nearly 3000 families.

At least two people drowned in Sarangani's Glan town, said Benito Ramos, head of the Philippines' disaster response agency.

A new storm in the western Pacific was forecast to reach the eastern Philippines later this week and could become the first typhoon of the year.

About 20 tropical storms and typhoons each year batter the Philippine archipelago.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15892
909. HurricaneHunterJoe
1:40 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting SubtropicalHi:



Although I'm a day late: I guess Republicans like insurance companies.
Almost as much as the Koch Brothers!
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4956
908. HurricaneHunterJoe
1:39 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Looks like we got some agreement on a Tropical System in the Gulf,but where it hits is another question. From what I have seen,thats Florida to Texas.
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4956
907. mcluvincane
1:37 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Quoting SubtropicalHi:



Although I'm a day late: I guess Republicans like insurance companies.


Your right, I'm a Republican and I love insurance companies. My house was destroyed during Fran and my insurance company covered all cost to rebuild. Without them, well I guess i would be screwed lol.
Member Since: June 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1339
906. fireflymom
1:36 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
It got pretty bumpy in a few spots yesterday for sure but no rain on us.
Quoting RitaEvac:
Gonna get bumpy somewhere over TX with heating of the day

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905. jeffs713
1:36 PM GMT on June 13, 2012
Morning everyone!

I think I see pre-Ernesto in a thunderstorm currently over Rwanda.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5869

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.