Unprecedented Impact on Coastline Linked to Global Warming

Scientists investigating reports made by the Inuvialuit of the northwest Arctic of a massive storm surge in 1999 have been shocked at the devastating impact on the ecosystem and environment.

The researchers from Queen’s and Carleton Universities studied growth rings from coastal shrubs and lake sediment from the Mackenzie Delta, the location of the widespread 1999 storm surge. The researchers found that the impact of the salt-water storm surges is unprecedented in the thousand year history of the region.

“One of the most ominous threats of global warming today is from rising sea levels, which can cause marine waters to inundate the land,” says the team’s co-leader, Queen’s graduate student Joshua Thienpont. “The threat is especially acute in polar regions, where shrinking sea ice increases the risk of storm surges.”

“This had been predicted by all the models and now we have empirical evidence,” added team co-leader Michael Pisaric, a geography professor at Carleton

The results of the study into the impact the salt water flooding had on alder bushes along the Mackenzie Delta coastline shocked the researchers.

Within a year of the storm surge, half of the shrubs sampled were dead, with another 37% dying off within the next five years. In fact, after a decade, the soil is still contaminated with high concentrations of salt, and sediment cores from the inland lakes reveal massive changes in the ecosystems, including a “striking shift” towards a salt-water environment from a typically freshwater one.

“Our findings show this is ecologically unprecedented over the last millennium,” says Queen’s biology professor and team member John Smol, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change and winner of the 2004 NSERC Herzberg Gold Medal as Canada’s top scientist. “The Arctic is on the front line of climate change. It’s a bellwether of things to come: what affects the Arctic eventually will affect us all.”

Source: Queen’s University
Image Source: mattcatpurple

2 thoughts on “Unprecedented Impact on Coastline Linked to Global Warming”

  1. “One of the most ominous threats of global warming today is from
    rising sea levels, which can cause marine waters to inundate the land.”

    Oh baloney! Not more than a very tiny fraction of long running single
    site tide gauge records shows any trend change in the modern era
    whatsoever. I’m not kidding. Let’s find the location of this study to
    see, shall we?

    Mind you I have no idea what I’ll find but I’ll make a prediction: NO
    TREND CHANGE. Here we go folks…The Mackenzie River is the largest river
    in Canada. Check. No tide gauge there. Let’s find it’s longitude and
    latitude…wait a second, it doesn’t open into the ocean at all but into a
    big lake called Great Slave Lake, so what does this have to do with sea
    level? Oh, that’s it’s source, not its drain. Where does it drain? It
    flows North to the Beaufort sea. http://www.aquatic.uoguelph.ca/rivers/macmap.htm.
    Longitude 70° N Latitude -133° W. Check. There are three tide gauges in
    the Beaufort sea. Let’s have a look! NO SEA LEVEL RISE THERE. Gee, my
    prediction came true.


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