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February 2024 Research Summaries and Sustainability Tips

Make the ocean your valentine by reading this month's research summaries and sustainability tips.

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FEBRUARY 9: RESEARCH SUMMARY - HEAT-RESISTANT REEF

Research from August of last year found that corals in Palau, a tiny island in the South Pacific, seem to have increasing thermal tolerance. In 1998, 2010, and 2017, the island experienced three separate mass bleaching events, and yet the study found that less coral bleached during each successive event.


The study compared these rates of increased thermal tolerance to a few projected pathways of coral bleaching based on the UN Paris Agreement for reducing global carbon emissions. Researchers found that under the highest emissions scenarios, having corals that are increasing their thermal tolerance is enough to delay high bleaching across most reefs by 10–20 years. However, even if all reefs increase their thermal tolerance, if little is done to curb our global emissions, most reefs will see frequent and severe bleaching by the end of the century.


FEBRUARY 15: SUSTAINABILITY TIP - ACTIVISM AWARENESS

Coral reefs can be extremely resilient when given enough time to adapt, but they are incredibly fragile if not. The reefs in Palau studied by the research we covered this week showed some hope that corals can become increasingly heat tolerant, but at most that might provide us with another decade. If we do not dramatically reduce our carbon emissions, corals will not have enough time to adjust to warmer ocean temperatures brought on by climate change.


Everblue member Ty holds up a phone with Sustainable Ocean Alliance’s Instagram account pulled up.

To stay informed on how we can put pressure on our leaders to reduce carbon emissions, follow ocean activism accounts like the Sustainable Ocean Alliance (@soalliance)! Sustainable Ocean Alliance is at the front lines of advocating for an end to fossil fuels at the highest global decision making levels like the United Nations. They are a wealth of knowledge to stay updated on what is going on with global negotiations to mitigate climate change!


FEBRUARY 17: RESEARCH SUMMARY - HARD TO PREPARE

How do we prepare for coastal erosion with climate change? Scientists have created a system to score how vulnerable a section of coast is to erosion. To determine the vulnerability score, scientists use seven attributes: (1) coastal feature, (2) coastal elevation, (3) coastal slope, (4) coastline change rate, (5) wave height, (6) tidal range, (7) sea level rise. These predictors may help us better prepare for coastal erosion as our climate changes. Scientists are still searching for the best methods to predict coastal erosions. This will help us avoid natural and economic disasters. We can prepare ourselves and communities for these events.



FEBRUARY 17: SUSTAINABILITY TIP - PREPARED

Coastal erosion is a natural phenomenon, but it is becoming harder and harder for us to predict and mitigate as climate change is increasing erosion rates and extreme weather events. If you live near the coast, we suggest having some food and water stored away in case of an emergency. We suggest making emergency plans to stay with a neighbor, friend, or family member. Check out ready.gov/kit for more emergency preparedness. Then share with your community!


FEBRUARY 26: RESEARCH SUMMARY - COASTAL CRISIS

In this study, researchers used a modeling framework to provide a representation of coastal adaptation and human migration after the effects of sea level rise. The results found that from 13,000 to 21,700 coastal inhabitants could be driven inland by sea level rise by the year 2080. Mitigating sea level rise would be best accomplished by decreasing the rate we are changing the climate, but smart actions such as beach renourishment, dune stabilization, and flood proofing homes are good steps to take in the meantime. Check out tomorrow’s tip for helpful information about sea level rise in flood zones (aka, where you might live!).

100-year floods are the probability of bodies of water reaching severe flood magnitude within a 100 year interval. Though the likelihood is low, a dangerous flood has the potential to occur more than once in a hundred year interval. With climate change causing sea levels to rise, the risk of flooding in coastal areas is increasing every year.

FEBRUARY 26: SUSTAINABILITY TIP - CLIMATE CENTRAL

Climate Central is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit made up of scientists and communicators that work together to educate people on climate change science. One of their coolest accomplishments is an interactive map that can be used as a screening tool to predict the effects of climate-change-driven sea level rise on coastal flooding.


You can explore potential flooding in foreign countries, or your own backyard! There are several features you can adjust such as flood potential, flood severity, year, temperature, etc. Pictured above is a map of coastal Virginia and North Carolina. In just 16 short years, the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach will be increasingly swallowed by the ocean; both during flooding, and not. Check out your flood zone today, and see how it will be affected by future climate change and sea levels rise!

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