Climate Change is Increasing the Likelihood of Worst-Case Scenarios

If you were following coverage of Hurricane Delta this week, you might’ve noticed that it seemed to come out of nowhere — one day we were all talking about Tropical Storm Gamma, and then seemingly overnight the conversation shifted to sounding alarms over Hurricane Delta. This phenomenon, in which a hurricane goes from nobody to nightmare in under a day, is known as rapid intensification. The one-two punch of rapid intensificaton being both deadly and difficult to predict has made it an urgent problem for forecasters as we all try to adjust to our changing climate.

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Microbes for Disappearing Dunes

A major challenge our coastal ecosystems face is rapid loss of sand dunes due to coastal erosion. Plants play an important role in sand dune restoration. However, without the right microbes these plants may not be able to establish themselves in the dunes.

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Hang on to that tree! Lizards that survived hurricane Maria showed increases in grip strength

The 2019 hurricane season started off with a bang. It’s clear that climate change has affected the frequency and severity of hurricanes. To understand whether species will be able to cope with more frequent severe storms we need more research to see how hurricanes can affect populations of plants and animals. Read on to find out how hurricane Maria in 2017 affected lizards in Dominica.

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Which Wetland? National Dataset Helps Reduce Flood Risk

Flooding is an expensive and dangerous problem across the globe. Freshwater wetlands can help reduce flood risk and damage. During large storm events, wetlands hold extra water allowing it more time to flow downstream or into the soil. In order to help communities understand where to spend their time and resources to utilize these important landscape features, researchers created a national dataset that identifies the wetlands that would be best for mitigating flood risk.

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Trees, Tempests, and Time: What trees can tell us about weather in the past

For storms along the Gulf Coast, first-person recordings are only reliable for the past 150 years. But knowing more about when storms happened in the past helps us understand how the climate is changing and how to reduce storm risks for coastal communities. To do that, we have to use even more unusual records: tree rings.

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Is climate change increasing the number of hurricanes we get and will we continue seeing more hurricane damage?

Recent climate change science has shown that since 500 AD the current levels of storm activity are the most active. The increased activity combined with rising sea levels has the potential to cause more damage than ever before. Although Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest ever recorded storm, stronger than Sandy and Katrina combined, occurred in the Pacific, the Atlantic can see events similar in the future.

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Summertime Sadness: Hurricanes and Water Quality

Hurricanes are natural disasters that can turn water quality nasty! Just how nasty depends on what’s on the land that’s being flooded. Hurricane Fran (1996) struck the Cape Fear region in southeastern North Carolina, and researchers from the University of North Carolina Wilmington noticed dissolved oxygen plummeted as a result of swamp water and swine farm waste flooding. The lack of oxygen in the water caused widespread death of fish and critters living in the bottom of the rivers, not to mention all that sewage introduced bacteria and disease into the environment! Swamp water flooding may be a natural, unavoidable consequence of hurricanes, but we must have policies and practices in place to reduce further degrading water quality from human activities.

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Following a Coastal Geologic Hazards course in Rhode Island

Coastal communities are impacted by hazards such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and beach erosion. Geologists reconstruct past events to understand future events. Follow along as a University of Rhode Island geology class explores coastal geologic hazards.

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