Dr. John Anderson, Rice University professor of Oceanography and academic director of the Rice University Shell Center for Sustainability (Rice’s Shell Center), says science-based comprehensive planning is urgently needed to find ways to minimize the impact of sea-level rise on coastal communities. “We are seeing unprecedented change take place related to what has been happening over the past 1,000 years,” Anderson says. “The rate of sea-level rise is five times what it was 200 years ago, and that’s very important. Some coastal areas are not able to keep up.”
Dr. Anderson authored The Formation and Future of the Upper Texas Coast: A Geologist Answers Questions about Sand, Storms, and Living by the Sea (2007, Gulf Coast Books, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi). It quite bothered me that short shrift was being given Gulf Coast sea level rise based on the lack of upper bound for dynamical ice flow changes reported in the IPCC AR4, and because ground subsidence had appeared to stabilize under ongoing water/wastewater regionalization and a continued switch toward surface water utilization. Now after five years' recovery from (2008) Hurricane Ike, and the region's sharp 2011-2012 drought with its serious fire threat and renewed tight resource ground withdrawls, the good doctor's quote in October 2013 is indeed gratifying!
- "The rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century has been larger than the mean rate during the previous two millennia."
- "Over the period 1901–2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.19 [0.17 to 0.21] m."
- "Global mean sea level will continue to rise during the 21st century." The best possible scenario where emissions fall to zero by 2070 and then go into reverse (an extreme effort to mitigate climate change) would watch sea levels rise by 1/4 to 1/2 meter by 2100. The worst scenario analyzed, where emissions do not peak until after 2250 by which time concentrations will have risen to over 2000 parts per million (7 times their preindustrial level), results in 1/2 to a full meter sea level rise (SLR) by 2100.
- Either way, with extreme efforts to combat global warming (~1.0 degree C further temperature rise to 2100 and ~1/3 meter SLR by then) or very modest efforts to fight global warming (~3.7 degrees C further temperature rise to 2100 and ~2/3 meter SLR by then), the sea is coming up in a way it hasn't before, and coastal Climate Change Adaptation Planning is necessary.
- "The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years."
- "CO2 concentrations have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and secondarily from net land use change emissions. The ocean has absorbed about 30% of the emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide, causing ocean acidification."
I returned to grad school 2004-2007 at Texas Southern University's Urban Planning-Environmental Policy Program at the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs to learn all I could about what would become known as science-based Climate Change Adaptation Planning. I'm delighted at last to see the discipline begin hitting home. May continued colaboration and success grace the SSPEED Center, Shell Center for Sustainability, Institute for Regional Forecasting, Center for Houston's Future, Houston Tomorrow, H-GAC, City of Houston and Harris County (there are so many others that could equally bear mention) sustainable communities, emergency management, disaster mitigation and Hurricane Ike recovery efforts!
Super also to find a dear TSU professor, Walter J. McCoy PhD, JD, serving on the CleanHouston.org advisory board, source of Vicki Wolf's linked article and Dr. John B. Anderson's quote above.