The Blog Aquatic » damage News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Sun, 17 Aug 2014 13:00:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 In the Wake of Sandy, Thinking About the Future Wed, 31 Oct 2012 16:49:51 +0000 Janis Searles Jones

Credit: AP Photos / Alex Brandon

Like many of you, many of Ocean Conservancy’s staff have lived through hurricanes and other natural disasters. We know how much damage hurricanes can cause, and our hearts go out to those of you affected by Hurricane Sandy.

For our staff working along the Gulf of Mexico, June through November is a time to remember how to “live with the water,” as Bethany Kraft, our director of Gulf Restoration put it at the start of this year’s hurricane season. When Hurricane Isaac hit last month, Gulf residents experienced hard winds, massive flooding and oiled shorelines that reminded us that we are still in the grips of responding to and recovering from the BP oil disaster.

Hurricane Sandy, which pounded the East Coast on Monday, was a wholly different storm. Our immediate concerns are always with those in the path of such devastating storms, especially those on the New Jersey coast and New York where the damage was especially acute. We send our gratitude to NOAA for the warnings and the time to prepare and to the first responders, who are not only saving lives but are leading communities’ recovery efforts.

As we shift from rescue to recovery, we are confronting a cleanup and rebuilding effort with an extraordinary price tag and an unforeseeable timeline. And while we can’t control such a massive storm, we can help strengthen our nation’s best defense against this force of nature.

Coastal and marine habitats such as barrier islands, beaches, oyster reefs and sea-grass beds can help buffer shorelines and protect coastal communities from wind and rising water. But when these natural sentries are weakened by climate change, development, pollution, overfishing and other human impacts, our communities are at even greater risk when disaster approaches.

With this in mind, we must ask:

  • How can we step in to help coastal areas affected by the storm?
  • What can we do to ensure that our coastal areas are ready and resilient, so they can better handle extreme weather events?

While any one storm — particularly one this complex — can’t be solely blamed on climate change, we know we can expect a greater frequency of stronger storms like this one. In addition to addressing climate change, we need to increase funding for restoration of our coastlines’ natural defenses.

In the Gulf of Mexico, we already know that restored wetlands and oyster beds can help sap the energy of an incoming hurricane and protect the shoreline from storm surge.

As Paul Greenberg, author of “Four Fish,” notes in The New York Times this week, oyster beds “once protected New Yorkers from storm surges, a bivalve population that numbered in the trillions and that played a critical role in stabilizing the shoreline from Washington to Boston.” While a small recovery of that population is underway, it could not have protected New Yorkers from the incredible strength of Sandy.

Going forward, we must focus attention on solutions for better protection of our increasingly vulnerable coastlines, from ongoing research and monitoring to smart, integrated planning in the coastal zone.

For now, our thoughts are with those recovering from Sandy, but as restoration gets underway in the coming weeks and months, Ocean Conservancy will be a leading voice in the call for comprehensive planning efforts to shore up our natural defenses before the next storm.

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News Roundup: What Can We Learn From Hurricane Sandy? Tue, 30 Oct 2012 19:04:25 +0000 Guest Blogger

Hurricane Sandy as viewed on October 29, Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by Sandy this morning, especially those on the New Jersey coast and New York where the damage was particularly acute.

Sandy, which packed 90 mile-per-hour winds and dumped 12 inches of rain and snow across states ranging from New Jersey to Kentucky, was declared to be something other than a hurricane. It was, forecasters said, a post-tropical storm that combined with other weather systems to stretch 1,000 miles wide and create storm surges up to 11 feet.

As we catch up on our work and get back up to speed, here are some takes on Sandy from around the web that we’re finding particularly insightful. If you have stories to share, please leave them in the comments below:

An Oyster in the Storm, The New York Times. As the storm came ashore yesterday in New Jersey, Four Fish author Paul Greenberg reminded us that nature can be a strong defense against major storms. Oysters, he says, “once protected New Yorkers from storm surges, a bivalve population that numbered in the trillions and that played a critical role in stabilizing the shoreline from Washington to Boston.”

Superstorm Sandy, by the Numbers, From the number of states affected to the total snowfall, NBC News provides a “by the numbers” look at this historic storm. FEMA’s estimates for potential wind damage caused by the storm: $2.5-$3 billion. And that’s without accounting for the massive flooding experienced in New Jersey and New York.

Assessing the Damage from Hurricane Sandy, The New York Times. The Times has a series of interactive graphics, photos and social media updated chronicling the magnitude of the storms effects, from power failures, to wind damage, to massive flooding.

Hurricane Hunters, NOAA Ocean Today. NOAA has a video profile of its “hurricane hunters” who fly into hurricanes to collect data on the storms. While satellites can track their movement, meteorologists and researchers need to sample hurricanes directly to get the most accurate information about them.

Slow Moving Hurricanes Such as Sandy on the Rise, New ScientistNew Scientist chronicles how and why slow moving, damaging storms like Sandy may be the new normal. The combination of warming seas, rising sea levels and our penchant for building cities along our coasts means we’re likely to see more damage from storms like this in the future.

Sandy, Unspent, Moves Toward Great Lakes, The Christian Science Monitor. Sandy moved over Western Pennsylvania today and headed to the Great Lakes, where it is expected to dump at least a foot of rain and create swells on Lakes Michigan and Huron that could reach 35 feet.

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