Public Perceptions of Rising Seas
Last year the DCM issued a 10-question scoping survey to gauge public perception about rising seas. During the forum Tancred Miller, Coastal Policy Analyst with the DCM, shared with the audience their results. Interestingly, 75% of participants believe sea level rise is happening and 66% believe that the state should take action now to plan and prepare for future sea level rise.
The results of this survey will be used as a communications tool to help the DCM design public outreach opportunities and to address the gaps in the public’s understanding of this issue. This sea level rise forum was the second step in the DCM’s “sea level rise roadmap” (see diagram); their clear path forward to address this issue in the state. To read the full report and analysis click here.
“Potential Death Sentence” for North Carolina Beaches
* Somewhere between 350 and 500 houses on NC beaches are sandbagged and/or in danger of washing away.
* Twenty-four miles of coastal highway are collapsing and 100+ miles are threatened.
Dr. Riggs made a big push for responsible coastal planning and development by ending his presentation posing the following question:
“We have a choice”, said Dr. Riggs. “Should we engineer our dynamic coastal system to keep up with the ongoing rise in sea level or should we begin adapting to these changes now to maintain a sustainable coastal system and associated economy?”
Future Sea Level Rise Estimates for North Carolina
There were more than a few scientists at this forum that addressed past, present and future sea level rise changes in North Carolina. Estimates were taken from numerous resources including Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments and various peer-reviewed studies. All of the most recent studies conclude that sea level is rising much faster than predicted.
Scientists like Dr. Gordon Hamilton, Research Professor at the University of Maine, explained that the range in estimates that are out there on sea level rise depend on how the model accounts for changes in ice sheet dynamics. Ice sheets are extremely sensitive; they can decay rapidly in non-linear ways which leads to uncertainty in sea level rise estimates.
“The general consensus since the IPCC’s latest assessment in 2007 is that we can expect at the very least, 1 meter of global sea level rise by the end of the century.”
– Dr. Gordon Hamilton
The Dialogue Continues
What will ultimately determine the fate of North Carolina’s coastal communities, ecosystems and associated economies will depend on how the state and her residents choose to mitigate and adapt to rapidly rising seas and a changing climate. The Division of Coastal Management along with all of their partners should be applauded by the dialogue that they have started and have committed to continuing in the state.
There is a lot of activity going on in North Carolina on the topic of sea level rise, adaptation and mitigation and the state is positioning itself to be a leader in our region in forward-thinking planning that accounts for global warming impacts to our treasured coastal places.
* Workshop on March 2nd and 3rd, 2010: Planning for North Carolina’s Future; Ask the Climate Question
* SACE Archive Webinar: “Planning to Protect: Helping SE Communities think about Adaptation”
* Video: “Treasured Places in Peril: The Outer Banks”
* New Resource: NOAA Climate Services