Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Major Climate Threat to Historic Jamestown’s Future

Our September 10, 2010 post asked, “What’s Jamestown’s Future?” based on reports that climate change threatens historic Jamestown. Now, a recent US Geological Survey study concludes that there is indeed a serious threat of ocean level increases that could swamp Jamestown Island in a few decades. 

The Washington Post published an article on USGS findings that the seas between Cape Hatteras and Boston are warming and rising faster than had been previously expected. In particular, Norfolk’s sea level has increased by 4.8 inches in the past two decades, as found in the study that examined over sixty years of data. While this and similar articles focus on the potential of economic and development impacts, there is little mention of the effect on America’s most important archaeological dig

These implications are serious for all the extraordinary Jamestown Rediscovery work that is revealing more and more of our true national origins and the lives of its earliest settlers.  They are equally serious for what is going on just a few miles south at the site of the Lost Colony

According to the article, “It’s not just a faster rate, but at a faster pace, like a car on a highway “jamming on the accelerator,” said the study’s lead author, Asbury Sallenger, Jr., an oceanographer at the agency. He looked at sea levels starting in 1950, and noticed a change beginning in 1990. 

The article goes on to say, “Jeff Williams, a retired USGS expert who wasn’t part of the study, and Stefan Rahmstorf, a professor of ocean physics at the Potsdam Institute in Germany, said the study does a good job of making the case for sea level rise acceleration. 

“Margaret Davidson, director of the Coastal Services Center for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Charleston, S.C., said the implications of the new research are ‘huge when you think about it. Somewhere between Maryland and Massachusetts, you’ve got some bodaciously expensive property at risk.’” 

There is also a local perspective on the effects of these findings in

We here in Southern California face similar problems with a potential sea rise of up 6 inches in less than two decades, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which reports on findings in an analogous study by the National Research Council.


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