Monday, August 10, 2015

A Look At The Future

We've been going to the marsh lately expecting to see lots and lots of birds, but weirdly there are very few to be found. This has been going on for months. I checked photos from last year, and there were definitely more birds and more species to be seen here. Seriously, there are only a few Great Egrets, a few geese, and some Willets. We're starting to get worried, especially since most of the lakes and ponds are completely empty even when we're seeing fish jumping. Not a diver or dabbling duck to be found anywhere. Not a single grebe either. No pelicans. How can this be? We have no idea, but we are hoping that some crazy new migration pattern is happening and everyone is going to show up at once. We really don't want this to be a look at the future.
While we were looking around hoping to see some birds, we came across this wonderful post and information sign that has some high water predictions for the future. Roger is standing next to the post, and the colors mark where high water may be--given the rising tides and a 100-year flood.
A close-up of the key tells the story. The blue marker on the pole represents a 10.7 foot (3.25 meters) high water mark, if we had a 100-year flood this year. That marker is just above Roger's ankle, so I think we'd be okay.
The map doesn't show where in Arcata the water would rise given a 100 year flood 35 years from now, with the tide level already higher by predicted .34 meter rise in sea level. That would be marked in yellow, but the prediction is a 11.7 foot (3.58 meters) high water mark in the year 2050.
The scariest prediction is the orange 100-year flood level in the year 2100, with a 13.9 foot (4.24 meters) high water mark and a predicted 1.0 meter rise in sea level. Uh-oh. See that red arrow I put on the map. That's where the house we're moving into in a few days is located. Yes, we would be flooded, but only if we lived to be 150 years old. Good thing that is not going to happen.

What's interesting about these rising sea levels and storm surge predictions is that they have nothing to do with the other crazy threat on this part of the north coast, the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and subsequent tsunami. We'll be living just outside the tsunami zone, if the tsunami behaves exactly as the science predicts. Hah! The future looks like one wild ride here on earth. Wheee!


  1. Yesterday was a fine summer's day here. I went out on my bicycle and found that the major roads were crowded with traffic, almost all cars. Where were they all going on a Sunday afternoon? Nowhere in particular just driving around it seems. Until we start taking the problem of greenhouse gasses seriously I guess that the scientists predictions will inevitably prove true.

  2. Scary. I live near the River Thames and that floods in the winter but as yet not reached our village. It would have to be really high to do so.

  3. We live on a creek and have seen its 100 year flood level but anticipate that those things are guesses and where it came to the edge of the driveway, a different set of conditions could bring it further. If the water is not moving, furniture can be set on things and the house likely will weather it out with mud on everything below the table height. Those things do make a person think if they live on water. The bad part would be a flood and an earthquake at the same time. It's all scary but as you point out, unlikely to happen on any of it.

  4. A friend of mine was willed a house that was located in the existing 100-year floodplain of the Delaware River in Trenton, New Jersey. He finally did manage to sell it, but you can imagine the value. Unfortunately, I don't think you and Roger will have to worry about the "orange zone" too much.

    I can't believe that sign there. If I were to put up such a sign in my preserve, I'd be fired. My board of directors consists largely of Republicans, and some (though not most, fortunately) remain climate deniers.

  5. we are bound to get an amazing amount of rain and runoff in the months ahead, if El Nino predictions are true. Do you suppose that's why the birds are so few? The ocean is warming and fish species are moving to colder waters. El Nino again.

  6. Goodness that could be scary. Your new house sure is close to the water. I imagine you will have to get flood insurance.
    The lack of birds is quite worrisome. Sure hope they return.

  7. Well, we don't have to worry about rising sea levels here in coastal NC. In 2012 our General Assembly passed a ruling that reports of increasing sea level rising could not be reported by State agencies. Sea level rises can be reported only in 100-year trends. So these asshats stand in flood waters and maintain the sea level has not risen. You figure.

  8. John-- With 7 billion fellow humans on the planet I don't hold out much hope for us to lighten our very heavy footprint.

    Bill-- We lived in a food zone in Santa Cruz many years ago. During the 1997-98 El Nino, the creek that ran below our yard came up into our sauna. It is surprising how quickly it happens.

    Rain-- We have been talking about putting together a serious earthquake prep kit. Haven't had one of those in many years. Not really sure how to prepare for flood, except to have a good emergency exit plan.

    Scott-- It'll be interesting to see what happens this year with the predicted El Nino. There is some question whether the pattern will move this far north. Fortunately, even if it does move this far and it becomes the 100 year flood, the sea levels haven't come up high enough at this point to overwhelm us. Yay!

    Tara-- There is still some question whether El Nino will come this far north. It often slams into San Francisco and further south. It's possible that there are fewer birds because of the warming oceans, but alot of the birds we typically see are shorebirds, divers, and dabblers. They must be responding to something, just not sure what.

    Arkansas Patti-- Our new house is pretty close to several sloughs and waterways. Luckily, we are more than a mile inland from the ocean. We once had to have flood insurance when we lived on a creek in Santa Cruz, but interestingly we aren't required to purchase it here. And earthquake insurance is optional and very expensive.

    NCmountainwoman-- We are very grateful that our city, county, and state actually attempts to respond to the science of climate change. Not much we can do, but stay informed and try to lighten our footprint. It's disheartening to think that science can be discounted for political purposes.