Tuesday, February 19, 2019

540,001, but Who's Counting?

Another level rise catastrophe warning from the Washington Post: In Annapolis, the tide has come in or out 540,000 times, but now it’s worrisome
When a city has been sitting by the Chesapeake Bay for 370 years, the tide has rolled in or out again more than 540,000 times, but only lately has it been the cause of much concern.

Yes, there have been vestiges of hurricanes that have left Annapolis awash, but they arrive with relative rarity in a town that still likes to think of itself as quaint and historic.

Although the shops and taverns that line the City Dock and Main Street — some with historic pedigree, others with less — change hands frequently, it’s the tides that have become worrisome.

“When the downtown gets flooded, which has been certainly more than ever this year, everyone always complains about parking down here,” said Megan Moore, who runs the Easy Street Gallery, which markets objets d’art on Francis Street and has just enough elevation to escape the water. “People can’t get over the Eastport Bridge, and if they get downtown, they can’t park. I wouldn’t have a store down there if you paid me.”

Fifty years ago, the downtown area was underwater for fewer than 10 days a year. Now, it’s flooded 40 times a year.

The city has begun an ambitious plan to combat the flooding, and the adjacent U.S. Naval Academy announced in December that it would raise its defenses against the tidal battering.

The sea is rising because ice caps are melting as the world grows warmer.

Some islanders in the Pacific fear they will be swallowed by the ocean. Officials in California are pondering whether to let cliff-side houses along beaches fall into the sea so that barricades can be built to contain the encroaching surf. Southeastern Virginia faces the fastest rate of sea-level rise on the East Coast, with experts predicting an increase of 1.5 to two feet by 2050.
OK, stop! Time for a reality check. NOAA has a record for sea level from a tide gauge in Annapolis that goes back to about 1930 (not as long as Baltimore, but pretty long). What does it look like?

Yep, just like we see in Baltimore, a steady rise in sea level, a little faster, at roughly 3.6 mm year (doing the math, about 1.18 ft per century, about half of what "experts predict"). Is there any hint of acceleration? Let them subtract out the linear part of the increase, and let's see:

Sure doesn't look like any to me. Remind me again when we actually see some of the long awaited increase the rate of sea level rise.

Yes, when you build something at a fixed height next to a rising sea coast, eventually, you will get wet. You know what smart people do when it looks like their road and buildings are going to get swallowed by the sea? Move to higher ground (or raise the ground, like they did in Manhattan).

It certainly doesn't warrant stopping the use of fossil fuels, but just maybe warrants forbidding the use of fossil fuels to print newspapers to publish false narratives.

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