Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Off US coast, Tangier Island disappearing under water
By Eleonore SENS
Tangier, United States (AFP) June 2, 2017

On Virginia's Tangier Island, about 100 miles and a ferry ride from Washington, the waters of the Chesapeake Bay are edging dangerously close to William Eskridge's house.

Eskridge's family has lived here for the last 200 years. But perhaps not for much longer. The island is under threat from rapid erosion that is being accelerated by rising water scientists believe to be caused by climate change.

At least a hundred feet of land have recently eroded, the fisherman says.

"And it just seems like it's getting worse every year. I'm kind of fearful what it's going to be down the road."

Tangier Island is wedged between the eastern shore of Maryland and the Virginia coast.

Now measuring just 1.2 square miles, it has lost two-thirds of its landmass since 1850. If nothing is done to stop the erosion, it may disappear completely in the next 40 years.

The 450 or so inhabitants here -- most of whose families have lived here for several generations -- are keen to save their island, classified in the National Register of Historic Places.

Carol Pruitt Moore, who belongs to one of the island's old fishing families, remembers going to the beach as a child. Back then, the walk would take an hour. Now it takes only 10 minutes.

"Not to save Tangier," she says, would be "a tragedy."

Nevertheless, many residents support the rhetoric of President Donald Trump, who on Thursday announced the US withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

The Republican billionaire, who has argued that environmental regulations are damaging for the US economy, won 87 percent of the vote in Tangier, where many don't believe the evidence that climate change is man-made.

"It has nothing to do with sea-level rise," a retired teacher who gave his name as Bruce says about the island's woes.

"I'm sure it will impact us in time, but we're talking about short-term erosion, which has been going on for decades."

- Saving the harbor -

Tangier Mayor James Eskridge -- William's brother -- is pushing for the construction of a new sea wall to protect the town's main harbor.

The harbor -- a lifeline for the families making a living off the crab fishing industry -- is directly threatened by erosion. Its western entrance is growing wider as the water rises, making it increasingly vulnerable during storms.

But seeing the project become a reality has been painstakingly slow.

"This project here has been in the works for, I would say, almost 20 years," Eskridge said. "And since then, in 20 years' time, there's been so much erosion going on here that the original project would not work now."

The delays are frustrating Tangier's residents as the erosion visibly diminishes their island.

Now set to be completed by next year, the project will provide only a short-term band-aid for a much bigger problem.

- 'Sunken sand hill' at risk -

David Schulte walks on what was once the village of Canaan. Today, only a few gravestones on a beach remain. Abandoned in the 1930s, Canaan is a reminder that erosion has always been a problem on Tangier Island.

But Schulte -- a marine biologist with the United States Army Corps of Engineers -- says global warming is dangerously accelerating that phenomenon.

"The water is now high enough that it's striking above the sand line on the island," he says.

Tangier is particularly vulnerable because it's made of softer material than many other islands.

"The island is basically a sunken sand hill, it's not like the islands on the South Pacific that have more stone," Schulte says, adding that a peat marsh on top of the sand is "very soft organic clay soil."

"Once the water gets high enough to hit the peak directly, it's just tearing the island to pieces."

Saving the island in the long term would require constructing additional sea walls and bailing out water from the island's center, he says.

"We go offshore, we get some sandy material with a big dredge and we pump it on top of these present ridges and physically build up the land."

However, any such engineering plan would depend on Congress, which must approve a new study to determine what measures can be taken to save the island.

Lawmakers would then have to vote to finance the project, estimated at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.

Timing is also crucial. Virginia Marine Resources Commissioner John Bull says that if a decision to go ahead is to be made, it must be done quickly.

"The environmental changes we've been seeing indicate that at some point, it will be too late to save Tangier," Bull warned.

Acidified ocean water widespread along North American West Coast
Corvallis OR (SPX) Jun 01, 2017
A three-year survey of the California Current System along the West Coast of the United States found persistent, highly acidified water throughout this ecologically critical nearshore habitat, with "hotspots" of pH measurements as low as any oceanic surface waters in the world. The researchers say that conditions will continue to worsen because the atmospheric carbon dioxide primarily to b ... read more

Related Links
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Sri Lanka targets unauthorised builders after monsoon deaths

GMV to supply Copernicus services in support to EU external action

Sri Lanka hails record military deployment as toll hits 213

European Reassurance Initiative requests billion-dollar budget increase

Bamboo inspires optimal design for lightness and toughness

Model for 2-D materials based RRAM found

New scaling law predicts how wheels drive over sand

Space junk could destroy satellites, hurt economies

Off US coast, Tangier Island disappearing under water

Envoys wade in to help US waters despite Trump climate snub

Fish uses special lips to eat razor-sharp, venomous coral

Understanding a river's 'thermal landscape' may be the key to saving it

How the Arctic Ocean became saline

Antarctic ice rift close to calving, after growing 17km in 6 days - latest data from ice shelf

Arctic peoples' climate pleas fell on deaf ears

Previously, on Arctic warming

Myanmar's edible bird nest industry comes home to roost

As temperatures rise, plants take up more carbon

Brexit risks disrupting EU agriculture market, experts warn

Scientists discover plant 'brain' controlling seed development

2017 hurricane season follows year of extremes

One dead, two missing as Taiwan battles floods

Sediment from Himalayas may have made 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake more severe

Deep magma reservoirs are key to volcanic 'super-eruptions'

African Union offers full support for UN climate deal

EU to give 50 million euros for African force in Sahel

China rejects Uganda ivory trafficking claims against diplomats

One dead after Gambian protesters clash with W. African troops

Tourists risk getting bit when they mistake monkey aggression for affection

Ancient grains offer insights into the birth and growth of the world's oldest cities

Fossil skeleton confirms earliest primates were tree dwellers

Springs were critical water sources for early humans in East Africa, Rutgers study finds

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement