Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Rising Seas Are Killing East Coast Trees

From Climate Central: White Cedars dying near the
Jersey Shore because of rising sea levels.  
You'd think just about all of the Middle Atlantic Coast is just beach communities, amusement parks and vacation getaways. Think the Jersey Shore, Asbury Park, all that.

But there are areas in New Jersey and other areas along the East Coast that are relatively remote. Just marshes and forests.

Some sections of these coastal forests are now dead, and climate change is partly to blame. Seems like it always is.

According to Climate Central, these dead "ghost forests" are an increasingly common feature in places like coastal southern New Jersey.

Sea levels are rising faster in the Mid-Atlantic than elsewhere in the world. Sea level rise around the world is not uniform. It depends upon whether the water in that area is warming faster in other areas, or if ocean currents are changing, and whether the land is sinking for other reasons.

In parts of the Mid-Atlantic, the land is sinking due in large part from groundwater pumping and natural geological processes. Plus the Gulf Stream has nudged closer to this part of the coast. Warmer water expands, so it's a little deeper than cold water. And of course, with ice and glaciers melting around the world, the oceans are slowly getting deeper.

When the water rises, salt water infiltrates the roots of coastal trees, killing them.

(This is why you see roadside sugar maple trees turning color earlier than other trees this time of year. Road salt used in the winter gets into the tree roots, damaging the trees and making them sickly and causing the leaves to turn color early.)

Climate Central says when the coastal forests die, they turn into marshland. And former marshland eventually succumbs to the rising seas.

The rate at which these forests are dying provide more clues as to where and how sea levels are rising.

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