2017 Broke Records for Number of Flooded Days on U.S. Coasts
Due to the combined impacts of climate change and upcoming El Niño conditions, coastal high tide flooding in the U.S. will be up to 60 percent more frequent in 2018 than it was 20 years ago, the most recent high tide flooding report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), announced Wednesday, projected.
The report, NOAA's 2017 State of High Tide Flooding and 2018 Outlook, also found that the 2017 meteorological year (May 2017 - April 2018) broke records for the number of high tide flooding days nationally, for an average of six days per coastal location observed.
The report predicted that, going forward, 2018 and the years after would continue to break records due to sea level rise, and that the rate of increased flooding might accelerate. Overall, the average number of flooded days has already doubled in the past 30 years. Flooding is increasing most quickly along the Southeast Atlantic coast, up by 160 percent since 2000. Flood frequencies are also significantly increasing along the Northeast Atlantic coast, at 100 percent, and the Eastern and Western Gulf Coasts, at 50 percent.
In 2017, more than a quarter of the 98 coastal locations where NOAA measured flooding broke their individual records in 2017. Regionally, the Northeast Atlantic and Western Gulf of Mexico saw the highest number of flooded days in 2017, at a median of 11 and 12 days respectively. Cities that broke records included Boston and Atlantic City, with 22 days of flooding, Sabine Pass, Texas with 23 days of flooding and Galveston, Texas with 18 days. Records also broke along the Southeast Atlantic and Eastern Gulf, with 14 days at Bay Waveland, Mississippi and six days at Fort Myers and Cedar Key, Florida. San Diego was a regional anomaly, breaking records with 13 flooded days.
Flooding along the Northeast and in the Gulf of Mexico was influenced by an especially stormy hurricane and nor'easter season, augmented by rising sea levels. But high tide foods can also occur without storms as sea levels continue to rise.
"There's a clear upwards trend of this type of flooding," University of Florida geologist Andrea Dutton told The Guardian in an article about the report. "Extreme events like hurricanes may be the breaking point but this sort of frequent flooding is the taste of what is coming in the future on a permanent basis. We need to rethink our relationship with the coastline because it's going to be retreating for the foreseeable future."
In 2018, El Niño conditions are expected to result in a higher number of flooded days than average in 48 coastal locations. The Northeast Atlantic and Northwest Pacific Coasts are expected to lead on average with five to six median days of flooding.
Coastal Flooding X-Factor: Natural Climate Patterns Create Hot Spots of Rapid Sea Level Rise… https://t.co/eU7Fbcdr8D— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1514912001.0
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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