By Marlene Cimons
Scientists know that sea levels have risen more in some places during the past century than in others. They've gone up faster along the Mid-Atlantic States, particularly near Cape Hatteras and the Chesapeake Bay, compared to north along the Gulf of Maine and south along the South Atlantic Bight. But why?
"Sea-level rise affects us all," said Chris Piecuch, assistant scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and lead author of a new study recently published in the journal Nature that explains the reasons for sea-level rise variations on the East Coast. "Those of us who live on the coast are feeling, and will continue, to feel more acutely its effects. But even those who don't live on the coast will feel the effects. Going into the future, over the coming centuries, multiple meters of global sea-level rise are possible. And even if the nature of storms doesn't change in the future, the higher 'baseline' of rising seas will make the impacts of coastal storms worse. Sea-level rise will come, making the bad worse."
Piecuch and his colleagues attribute the "unequal" sea-level rise in the East to a phenomenon known as "post-glacial rebound."
Thousands of years ago, large ice sheets covered large parts of northern North America, including large swaths of Canada and the northeastern U.S. As a consequence—because the ice sheets were so massive and heavy—they weighed down Earth's crust, causing it to sink directly beneath the ice sheet. "As a result, places that were around the edges or periphery of that ice sheet were actually levered up," Piecuch explained. "It's an imperfect analogy, but you can perhaps think of a see-saw. When you sit on one end of a seesaw, it goes down, whereas the other end of the seesaw goes up. Again, this was the picture thousands of years ago."
In the intervening time, the ice sheets melted, reducing the weight. As a result, the areas formerly sunken down under that massive weight could relax and rise up, whereas those regions around the edges that were formerly levered or bulged up sank, he said. "The seesaw is again helpful here," he said. "If you imagine stepping off the seesaw now, the end you'd been sitting on can rise back up, whereas the other end now sinks down."
Even though the ice sheets had disappeared by 7,000 years ago, the see-sawing of post-glacial rebound continues to this day, he said. "Because the Earth responds so gradually—and is, in a sense, still feeling the last ice age—that 'reverse' see-sawing is still ongoing, with land moving up in some places and down in others," he said. "And it's that spatially variable land motion that gives the effect of different rates of sea-level rise at different places on the East Coast."
While the differences on the East Coast are due mainly to naturally occurring post-glacial rebound, the exacerbating effects of climate change are "felt everywhere along the east coast commonly," he said. "The oceans are warming and expanding thermally, and land ice is melting, and that water is running off into the ocean, both causing sea level to rise. We know that global sea-level rise over the last century was faster than any other time during the last three millennia, that sea levels wouldn't have risen nearly the amount we observe if it weren't for human influence, and we know that—even over just the last 25 years—the rate of global sea-level rise has been accelerating. These and other evidences are telling us that what has been happening during the recent past is unusual and anomalous. And, based on our best understanding of the science, we can only anticipate that things will continue to accelerate, and problems of coastal impacts worsen."
To figure out why sea levels rose faster during the last 100 years in such areas as Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia and the Outer Banks in North Carolina, Piecuch and his team collected tidal gauge measurements of sea levels, GPS satellite data showing the extent of up-and-down land movement over time, and fossils in sediment from salt marshes, a record of past coastal sea levels. They combined this observational data with complex geophysical models—which hasn't been done before, they said—for a more complete interpretation of sea level changes since 1900.
Norfolk, Virginia and the Outer Banks, North Carolina.Google Maps
They found that post-glacial rebound accounted for most of the variation in sea-level rise along the East Coast. But even after eliminating the post-glacial rebound factor, "sea level trends [still] increased steadily from Maine all the way down to Florida," Piecuch said. "The cause for that could involve more recent melting of glaciers and ice sheets, groundwater extraction and damming over the last century.
"Sea level is a complicated problem," he continued. "Lots of processes can lead to sea-level rise, for example, geological processes like post-glacial rebound compounding the problem of climate change and its impacts on the coast. One thing that's useful about our study is that, for the East Coast, we've pinned down one part of the problem. And, since that problem unfolds over very long time scales, we can be confident predicting that component of sea-level rise centuries into the future. But, of course, that says nothing about the other parts of the sea-level rise problem, for example, due to ongoing ice melting and ocean warming."
His study is an attempt to bolster scientific knowledge about the factors involved, which should "help us understand how and why they will rise into the future, at a particular place, and for a particular time horizon," he said. "While these studies can't stem the rise of the tides, it can give us the best information possible so as to help us anticipate the impacts on our coasts."
To be sure, uncertainties remain. "We're still trying to understand just how much and just how fast sea levels will rise in the future," he said. Nevertheless, the news almost certainly will be bad. "There really are no good stories here," he said. "Under no physically plausible scenarios will global sea levels go down. They're certainly going to continue rising, very probably at accelerated rates, for decades and centuries into the future."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Nexus Media.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Michael Svoboda
The enduring pandemic will make conventional forms of travel difficult if not impossible this summer. As a result, many will consider virtual alternatives for their vacations, including one of the oldest forms of virtual reality – books.
Watchdog Accuses Trump's NOAA of 'Choosing Extinction' for Right Whales by Hiding Scientific Evidence
By Julia Conley
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By Beth Ann Mayer
Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.
How to Rock Your Walk<p>Walking isn't just fun and healthy. It's accessible.</p><p>"Walking is cheap," says Dr. John Paul H. Rue, a sports medicine doctor at <a href="https://mdmercy.com/" target="_blank">Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore</a>. "You can do it anywhere at any time; [it] requires little to no special equipment and has many of the same cardio benefits as running or other more intense workouts."</p><p>Want to up your walking game? Try the tips below.</p>
Use Hand Weights<p>Cardio and strength training can go hand-in-hand when you add weights to your walk.</p><p>A <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2019/03000/Associations_of_Resistance_Exercise_with.14.aspx" target="_blank">2019 study</a> found that weight training is good for your heart, and <a href="https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(17)30167-2/abstract" target="_blank">research</a> shows it reduces the risk of developing a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/nutrition-metabolism-disorders" target="_blank">metabolic disorder</a> by 17 percent. People with metabolic disorders have a higher chance of being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.</p><p>Rue suggests not carrying weights for your entire walk.</p><p>"Hand weights can give you an added level of energy burning, but you have to be careful with these because carrying [them] over a long period of time or while walking could actually lead to some overuse injuries," he says.</p>
Make It a Circuit<p>As another option, consider doing a circuit. First, put a pair of dumbbells on your lawn or somewhere in your home. Walk around the block once, then stop and do some bicep curls and tricep lifts before walking around the block again.</p><p>Rue recommends <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/running-with-weights" target="_blank">avoiding ankle weights</a> during cardio workouts, as they force you to use your quadriceps rather than hamstrings. They can also cause muscle imbalance, according to the <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/wearable-weights-how-they-can-help-or-hurt" target="_blank">Harvard Health Letter</a>.</p>
Find a Fitness Trail<p>Strength training isn't limited to weights. You can get stronger by <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/bodyweight-workout" target="_blank">simply using your body</a>.</p><p>Often found at parks, fitness trails are obstacle courses with equipment for pullups, pushups, rowing, and stretches to build upper and lower body strength.</p><p>Try searching "fitness trails near me" online, checking out your local parks and recreation website, or calling the municipal office to <a href="https://calisthenics-parks.com/" target="_blank">find one</a>.</p>
Recruit a Friend<p>People who workout together stay healthy together.</p><p><a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-017-0584-3" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that older adults who exercised with a group improved or maintained their functional health and enjoyed their lives more.</p><p>Enlist the help of a walking buddy with a regimen you aspire to have. If you don't know anyone in your area, apps like <a href="https://www.strava.com/" target="_blank">Strava</a> have social networking features so you can get support from fellow exercisers.</p>
Try Meditation<p>According to the <a href="https://www.nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/nhis/2017" target="_blank">2017 National Health Interview Survey</a>, published by the National Institutes of Health, meditation is on the rise, and for good reason.</p><p>Researchers <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29616846/" target="_blank">found</a> that mind-body relaxation practices can regulate inflammation, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/biological-rhythms" target="_blank">circadian rhythms</a>, and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/glucose" target="_blank">glucose</a> metabolism, as well as lower <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension" target="_blank">blood pressure</a>.</p><p>"Any form of exercise can be turned into a meditation of some type, either by the surroundings you are walking in, like a park or trail, or by blocking out the outside world with music on your headphones," Rue says.</p><p>You can also play a podcast or download an app like <a href="https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app" target="_blank">Headspace</a> that has a library of guided meditations to practice while you walk.</p>
Do Fartlek Walks<p>Typically used in running, fartlek intervals alternate periods of increased and decreased speed. These are <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit" target="_blank">high-intensity interval training (HIIT)</a> workouts, which allow exercisers to accomplish more in less time.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154075" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that 10-minute interval training improved <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/metabolic-syndrome" target="_blank">cardiometabolic</a> health, or lowered the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, just as well as working out at a continuous pace for 50 minutes.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111489" target="_blank">Research</a> also shows that HIIT workouts increase muscle <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-twitch-muscles" target="_blank">oxidative</a> capacity, or the ability to use oxygen. To do a fartlek walk, try walking at an increased pace for 3 minutes, slow down for 2 minutes, and repeat.</p>
Gradually Increase Pace<p>A faster walking pace is associated with a lower risk of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/copd" target="_blank">chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)</a> and respiratory diseases, according to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30303933/" target="_blank">2019 study</a>.</p><p>Still, it's best not to go from a stroll to an Olympic-worthy power walk in a day. Instead, increase your pace gradually to prevent injury.</p><p>"Start by walking at a brisk pace for about 10 minutes per day, 3 to 5 days per week," Rue says. "Once you've done this for a few weeks, increase your time by 5 to 10 minutes per day until you get to 30 minutes."</p>
Add Stairs<p>You've likely heard that taking the stairs instead of an elevator is a way to add more movement into your daily routine. It's also a way to step up your walking. Stair climbing has been shown to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335519301123?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">decrease the risk of mortality</a> and can easily add a bit more challenge to your walk.</p><p>If you don't have stairs in your home, you can often find them outside a local municipal building, train station, or at a high school stadium.</p>
Is Your Walk a True Cardio Workout?<p>Not all walks are equal. A walk that's too leisurely may not provide enough burn to qualify as cardio. To see if you're getting a good workout, try to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-check-heart-rate" target="_blank">measure your heart rate</a> using a monitor.</p><p>"A target goal for a good walking workout heart rate is about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate," Rue says, adding that maximum heart rate is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/fat-burning-heart-rate" target="_blank">typically calculated</a> by 220 beats per minute minus your age.</p><p>You can also monitor how easily you can carry on a conversation while you walk to gauge your heart rate.</p><p>"If you can walk and carry on a normal conversation, that's probably a lower intensity walk," says Rue. "If you are slightly breathless but can still have a conversation, that's probably a moderate workout. If you are out of breath and can't talk normally, that's a vigorous workout."</p>
Takeaway<p>By shaking up your routine, you can add excitement to your workout and reap even more rewards than a basic walk provides. Increasing the pace and intensity of a workout will make it more effective.</p><p>Simply pick your favorite variation to add some spice to your next walk.</p>
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Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.
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