Shore climate: What’s next?

A wave overtakes the seawall, knocking into an observer who is thrown off balance on the Boardwalk near 16th Street in Ocean City as Hurricane Sandy turned toward the coast last October. / Baltimore Sun photo

A wave overtakes the seawall, knocking into an observer who is thrown off balance on the Boardwalk near 16th Street in Ocean City as Hurricane Sandy turned toward the coast last October. / Baltimore Sun photo

Our region is likely to feel different – and be different – by 2100

DELMARVANOW | 7 October 2013

The Delmarva Peninsula, bounded by Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay, is a remarkable location.

On a human level, it is a fertile area for farming and fishing. It lends itself to a high quality of life, with recreational options spanning the spectrum. It attracts a number of visitors each year totaling in the millions, fueling our economy and helping connect our isolated region to people and communities elsewhere.

On a habitat level, there is a wide array of land and sea creatures. One needs only to spend an hour in the visitors center at Assateague Island National Seashore to recognize the wealth of species here.

Yet what we know now of our area is but a snapshot in time. About 10,000 years ago or more, there would have been Ice Age conditions here. Even a century ago, the Ocean City Inlet didn’t exist (a storm created it in the 1930s, bolstered by subsequent efforts of the Army Corps of Engineers).

So it is highly likely that the climate and even terrain are going to be different 80 or 150 or even 10,000 years from now. The question at issue, in both the scientific and political communities, is how much human activity is influencing the rate and direction of change.

The latest addition to this discussion is a United Nations report on climate change. Now before you pooh-pooh this because you’ve read the term “United Nations,” it’s important to understand the report encapsulates a wide range of research and scientists. Not every scientist in the world will agree with its conclusions, but simply dismissing it without reading it and assessing it would not be wise.

As The New York Times reported, the report “formally embraced an upper limit on greenhouse gases for the first time, establishing a target level at which humanity must stop spewing them into the atmosphere or face irreversible climatic changes.” Again, the scientists’ analysis and prescription may not be spot on, but the adjective “irreversible” is an alarm bell, not one peer-reviewed researchers throw around lightly.

Read more at delmarvanow.com

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