How much longer have iconic US surf breaks got?

rising sea level

I’ve written before about the possible disappearance of iconic surf breaks around low-lying coral atolls, but how would the iconic surf breaks of mainland US fare in a warmer world with higher sea levels?

Well now US surfers can take a glimpse into the probable future thanks to two illuminating internet tools. The US National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Service Center have produced an interactive map that allows you to show the potential impact of sea level rises up to 6 feet – which is well within the bounds of probability based on current emissions of greenhouse gases.

And the aptly named Architecture 2030 Nation under Siege website  has used GIS mapping to show the impacts on various towns and cities around the coast. As the website says:

‘The U.S. is a coastal nation with over 12,000 miles of coastline. With 53% of all Americans living in and around coastal cities and towns, it is important to understand the impact of climate-induced sea level rise on our nation. Previous studies have focused on a six-meter rise. The following study takes a more conservative approach, beginning with a sea level rise of just one meter. ‘

Some US breaks on the map include Newport Beach and Cocoa Beach. There are some startling potential impacts on Surf City NJ and Noo Yawk itself, large parts of which would be inundated. These two tools really bring home the message that iconic breaks and coastal communities are under threat and it’s essential that we build resilience to climate change as well as reduce emissions if future generations are going to stand any chance of enjoying the lifestyles we have.



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