Voyage to Iceberg Alley

A couple of days ago, right around sunrise, we sailed out of the Straits of Magellan and into the southern Atlantic Ocean, bound for the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic waters known as Iceberg Alley. Giant petrels soared against a clear blue sky, and gentle waves rocked the ship—although we didn’t expect that to last! I am aboard the JOIDES Resolution, a research vessel and drilling ship, and we are intentionally sailing into some of the planet’s wildest seas and the area of greatest iceberg concentration in the Antarctic.

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How the Driest Regions on the Planet Add to Sea Level Rise

Terrestrial water loss is a major contributor to water stress around the world. Areas that are hydrologically isolated tend to lose water twice as fast as other regions. But where does that water go? New evidence is showing that water from the driest regions on the planet may have a consequential impact on global sea level rise.

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What gives glacier algae their wild colors?

When a British expedition reported seeing pink mountain snow in 1818, the London Times said: “Our credulity is put to an extreme test upon this occasion, but we cannot learn that there is any reason to doubt the fact as stated.” Two hundred years later, we now can confirm that pink snow (“watermelon snow”) is real and it is caused by certain types of algae. But why is it that snow algae take on such distinctive red and purple colors? And how does this connect to melting glaciers or global sea level rise?

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Will sea level rise harm tidal marshlands?

Tidal freshwater wetlands sit at the interface between the salty estuary and freshwater uplands, making the vulnerability of these habitats uncertain as sea level rise progresses. This study used over 5 years of plant and water level monitoring data, along with an elevation survey, to assess the relationship between plant species coverage and early season flooding. The researchers found that early in the season flooding was associated with sharp declines in plant coverage. These observations and analyses could provide insights into how sea level rise will affect tidal freshwater wetlands.

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Sinking Rails

Coastlines and estuaries are often densely populated with a wide diversity of birds. Many species have adapted to the salty coast and thrive in its waves, beaches and marshes. However, sea-level rise is changing the coast. Researchers, representatives from both universities and governmental agencies of southern California collaborated to predict what habitat for the Ridgway’s rail may look like in the next ten, twenty, thirty years all the way until the year 2110 with several predicted rates of sea-level rise. As sea levels increase, more habitat may become available; but too much flooding could destroy habitat as well.

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Nature vs. Nature or Engineering? The Case of Coastal Resilience

Coastal flooding has been a problem for as long as civilization has settled along the coast. During that same time civilization has been impacting natural features that would otherwise help mitigate this problem. There are two schools of thought in combating coastal flooding today: installing conventional engineering solutions and bringing back natural barriers. There are pros and cons to both strategies, but it really boils down to cost, space, and unintended consequences. In our opinion, nature should be used to fight nature. Read the article and decide for yourself!

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Sea-Level Rise won’t affect every place in the same way

Do you, like 40% of the global population, live within 100 km of the coast? If so, you have probably wondered about the impacts sea level rise will have on your home, your community, and daily activities. Interestingly, sea level is not expected increase the same amount in all places around the globe. Read on to learn about how the reconstruction of historical environments can help us define how different areas around the globe will be impacted by sea level rise.

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Predicting the future by looking to the past: Determining Rates and Magnitudes of Sea-Level Change from Sediment Cores

With sea levels rising at an alarming rate, coastal communities have one thing on their mind: how much will sea levels rise, and how soon? The rate at which sea level rises is unique to each coastline and reliant on many factors. However, many scientists believe projecting future sea-level rise rates is dependent on understanding a coastline’s past. This summary explores past research on the secrets of sea-level rise in marine sediments.

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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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