Sea level rise in Canada

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog post for Science Borealis with my co-editor in the Earth & Environmental Science subject category, Sri Ray-Chauduri. A few new papers had come out looking at both past and potential future sea level rise, and we were interested in figuring out what that meant for Canada’s coastal regions.

It was our first post completed following the new editorial guidelines at Science Borealis. Our new Editorial Manager, Mika McKinnon, has implemented a pitching process: before you write your weekly post, you have to pitch it to the Editorial Manager, the Blog Editors, and whomever else from the Science Borealis team happens to be on the pitching Slack channel at the time.

This turned out to be a great process. It helped us refine what we wanted to focus our piece on, and how we wanted to structure it. We got lots of ideas from the Science Borealis team, and when it came to writing the post things flowed a lot more smoothly than I think they would have without the pitch session.

In the end we wrote about what sea level rise is predicted to look like on all of Canada’s three coasts. We decided to focus on the ways in which we can work with nature – rather than against it – to manage sea level rise, using examples from The Netherlands, Germany, and the US. I think the post turned out well, and quite a few people read it and shared it via social media channels. Now do you think we can turn it into a magazine story? 🙂

“At almost 240,000 km, Canada has the longest coastline in the world. Over seven million Canadians live in coastal regions along the Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic Oceans, many of whom are likely paying close attention to recent news about both historic and future global sea levels.

In examining historic sea levels, a study published in Nature Climate Change found that current rates of sea level rise are the highest of the past 28 centuries. The results prompted the researchers to state that, “the stable climate in which human civilization has flourished for thousands of years, with a largely predictable ocean permitting the growth of great coastal cities, is coming to an end.”

Delving more deeply into what we might see in the future, a study published in Nature used a newly validated ice sheet and climate dynamics model to show that Antarctic melt could contribute significantly to sea level rise under a high greenhouse gas emission scenario. By the end of this century, ice melt from Antarctica plus the other ice sheets could potentially increase global average sea level by 1.5 to 2 metres.

Grasping the significance of a 1 to 2 metre increase in sea level is about more than watching stunning footage of ice shelves calving into the ocean. The damage and cost to coastal areas and habitats from increased coastal flooding affects the everyday lives of regular people. Elizabeth Kolbert describes the scene in Miami, where “water gushed down the road and into an underground garage…In front of a four-story apartment building, which was surrounded by a groomed lawn…water seemed to be bubbling out of the turf. [In a] neighborhood of multimillion-dollar homes…water was creeping under the security gates and up the driveways. Porsches and Mercedeses sat flooded up to their chassis.””

Read more here.

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