The Ghost Forest of the Delmarva Peninsula… Because Climate Change

Guest geology by David Middleton

Ghost Forests Are Visceral Examples of the Advance of Climate Change

BY TIK ROOT OCTOBER 7, 2019

As Matt Kirwan walks through Maryland’s Blackwater National Refuge, his rubber boots begin to squish. With each step the land beneath him turns from dry ground to increasingly soggy mud. The trees around him go from tall and full of leaves or needles to short, bare and pale white.

Partway out, ankle deep in water, Kirwan stops. “At this point we’ve transitioned from being in the forest, to actually being in a full-fledged marsh,” explains the Virginia Institute of Marine Science ecologist. “This ground is now too salty and too wet to support living trees.”

Kirwan is standing in the midst of what is known as a “ghost forest.” These swaths of dead, white, trees are created when salty water moves into forested areas, first slowing, and eventually halting, the growth of new trees. That means that when old trees die, there aren’t replacements.

[…]

Kirwan likens ghost forests to other drastic markers of environmental change. Similar to how a receding glacier leaves signs of where ice used to be, ghost forests represent where dry land used to be. “You can touch it and see it,” he says. “It’s just as real as a melting glacier.”

[…]

“Ghost forests are the most striking indicator of climate change anywhere on the Atlantic coast,” says Kirwan.

One of the primary mechanisms for ghost-forest creation is sea-level rise, says Keryn Gedan, a professor at George Washington University in D.C., and Kirwan’s co-author on a recent article about the phenomena in the journaNature Climate Change.

[…]

Climate change also exacerbates events such as hurricanes, which bring storm surges that drive salt-water landward, explains Emily Bernhardt, a professor at Duke University. Droughts, which have been similarly linked to climate change, mean less rain to wash out the salt that enters the ecosystem, “compounding the effects of sea level rise,” she says.

[…]

Time

The word “subsidence” was notably not used at any point in this article.

Tik Root has a a BA in International Politics and Economics from Middlebury College (a Bill McKibben brainwashing victim?). He has an excuse… He’s not a scientist. What about the professors who contributed to this article? The paper by Kirwan & Gedan at least mentions subsidence. Although they never mention the fact that Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, located on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay, is an area notorious for land subsidence.

Figure 1. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge location map. (Google)

More than half of the sea level rise in the vicinity of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is due to subsidence.

Pleistocene relative sea levels in the Chesapeake Bay region and their implications for the next century

ABSTRACT
Today, relative sea-level rise (3.4 mm/yr) is faster in the Chesapeake Bay region than any other location on the Atlantic coast of North America, and twice the global average eustatic rate (1.7 mm/yr). Dated interglacial deposits suggest that relative sea levels in the Chesapeake Bay region deviate from global trends over a range of timescales. Glacio-isostatic adjustment of the land surface from loading and unloading of continental ice is likely responsible for these deviations, but our understanding of the scale and timeframe over which isostatic response operates in this region remains incomplete because dated sea-level proxies are mostly limited to the Holocene and to deposits 80 ka or older.

STUDY SITE AND METHODS
To reconstruct the sea-level history in Chesapeake Bay, we focused on the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (~110 km2; red-bordered rectangle on Fig. 1), which experienced major inundation and transformation of wetlands to open water in the twentieth century (Fig. 3). Sediment from 70 boreholes was described, analyzed, and sampled. The DEM (Fig. 4) was used to characterize the geomorphology. We constrained the oldest erosional event preserved directly above the underlying Miocene strata using cosmogenic nuclide isochron burial dating (Balco and Rovey,
2008). We dated 28 samples using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating. The OSL ages allow us to develop a geochronological framework for the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge landforms and estuarine sediments to a depth of ~9 m (Fig. 5). Eight radiocarbon dates constrain the timing of Holocene inundation and the beginning of marsh accretion. Detailed methods are provided in the online GSA Supplemental Data Repository.

[…]

Our data support the hypothesis that subsidence in the Chesapeake Bay region is caused by the continued collapse of the MIS 2 forebulge (Potter and Lambeck, 2003). While subsidence rates vary within the Chesapeake Bay region (Fig. 1) (Engelhart etal., 2009), potentially due to local groundwater withdrawal for commercial use (Eggleston and Pope, 2013), the central Delmarva Peninsula has the highest rates of subsidence in the mid-Atlantic region (~1.3–1.7 mm/yr; Engelhart et al., 2009). Parsing
GIA-driven subsidence from other RSL drivers is uncertain (e.g.,
Cronin, 2012), but the agreement of twentieth-century subsidence
values calculated from tide gauge records where effects of seasonal
and decadal variability are removed (~1.6 mm/yr, Boon et al., 2010) and from dated Holocene deposits (~1.3 mm/yr; Engelhart et al., 2009) from the same location near our study area implies consistency of rates over millennial timescales. Subsidence is thus primarily driven by GIA in the Chesapeake Bay region, which makes RSL rise in the Chesapeake Bay–Washington D.C. area twice the twentieth-century global average rate of sea-level rise (1.7 mm/yr; IPCC, 2013). If timescales of MIS 6 forebulge subsidence are used for comparison, subsidence from the LGM forebulge collapse will continue for many more millennia.

[…]

DeJong et al., 2015

At this point the authors went off on a tangent about accelerating sea level rise in the area, citing the IPCC and other nonsense. However, up until that point, this was some solid geology.

This series of sea level rise curves tells the story quite well.

Figure 2. Blackwater NWR is in the red rectangle on the Delmarva Peninsula. 2.5-2.7 mm/yr of the ~3.4 mm/yr SLR (red curve) is due to land subsidence (green curve), assuming the GIA model is realistic.

Actual measurements of land elevation changes southwest of Blackwater NWR are consistent with the GIA model.

Figure 3. Subsidence map (Eggleston and Pope, 2013)

This section from DeJong et al., 2015 is baffling…

These are minimum estimates; several lines of evidence suggest that sea levels will rise more quickly in the Chesapeake Bay region. Recent tide gauge analyses indicate the acceleration of sea-level rise in the North Atlantic in recent decades, possibly due to dynamic ocean circulation processes (Yin et al., 2010; Boon, 2012; Ezer and Corlett, 2012; Sallenger et al., 2012).

DeJong et al., 2015

There are two NOAA tide gauges stations in the vicinity:

Figure 4. NOAA tide gauge locations: Solomons Island to the west and Cambridge to the north.

Neither station exhibits any indication of acceleration.

Figure 5. Solomons Island sea level trend. (NOAA)
Figure 6. Cambridge sea level trend. (NOAA)

Conclusions

The Ghost Forests of the Delmarva Peninsula “are visceral examples of climate change”… at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch. At least half of the apparent sea level rise in the area is due to subsidence of the land. While some of the subsidence is due to groundwater withdrawal and some possibly related to the underlying 35 Ma Chesapeake impact crater, the vast majority of it appears to be due to the “continued collapse of the MIS 2 forebulge”, which is due to the retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet at the end of the final glacial stage of the Pleistocene Epoch.

References

DeJong, Benjamin & Bierman, Paul & Newell, Wayne & Rittenour, Tammy & Mahan, Shannon & Balco, Greg & Rood, Dylan. (2015). Pleistocene relative sea levels in the Chesapeake Bay region and their implications for the next century. GSA Today. 25. 4-10. 10.1130/GSATG223A.1.

Eggleston, Jack, and Pope, Jason, 2013, “Land subsidence and relative sea-level rise in the southern Chesapeake Bay region: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1392”, 30 p., https://dx.doi.org/10.3133/cir1392.

Kirwan, Matthew & Gedan, Keryn. (2019). “Sea-level driven land conversion and the formation of ghost forests”. Nature Climate Change. 9. 450-457. 10.1038/s41558-019-0488-7.

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70 thoughts on “The Ghost Forest of the Delmarva Peninsula… Because Climate Change

  1. Does Time magazine have an excuse?
    Is there a link to this article on Time’s site?
    What are commenters saying there?

      • The Times actually has a generous comment policy. Whatever you have to say, though, keep it civil and short; there is a 1500 character limit. Also be quick about it, because comments sections are closed 24 hours after publication. I am a frequent commenter, especially on CC articles, often harshly critical, and am almost always published. A digital subscription is ten bucks a month. Well worth it to have your say. Plus the Times is still a pretty good read most of the time, even in its current compromised condition.

        The Times now permits links in the comments as well, if not overused.

  2. Good posting, David, and without doubt local geological complications affect Relative Sea Level. The big picture is tilting of the North, Central, and South Americas plates, west side up and east side down (sorry!). As I have mentioned before some Inca canals have reversed gradients, ie, gradient leading from desert on the west back toward mountains to the east, due to this tilting. It is easy to find references, like: Peruvian Prehistory: An Overview of Pre-Inca and Inca Society, Richard W. Keating, p. 198 “subtle tectonic tilting and uplift which reversed or reduced old canal gradients”. Great to visit the east side, like the Boardwalk in New Jersey, just don’t buy a house with an ocean view.

  3. ★★★★★

    × 1,000

    The promoters of the CAGW conjecture in the Sovereign Socialist People’s Republic of Maryland apparently never heard the words “subsidence” or “erosion.” Every last one of ’em needs remedial education by Kip Hansen and David Middleton on the subtleties and complexities of measuring sea level.

  4. “The dams have a positive impact on the environment. They slow water, trapping silt and pollutants. Conowingo Dam[1] is credited with preventing much of the silt from Pennsylvania from reaching the Chesapeake Bay. ”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dams_and_reservoirs_of_the_Susquehanna_River

    There you have your biggest problem.

    If you dam the Chesapeake Bay drainage basin you will eliminate delta formation. So you have a real man made problem. This is the same problem most beaches have.

      • Bingo, Robertvd.
        I was also going to point out that Mankind changing waterflows and silt deposition are substantial contributors to ghost forests.

        Another possibility is caused by water extraction. If the Chesapeake is too salty for trees within the refuge, it is too salty for human potable waters. Groundwater extraction leads to surface subsidence and to salt water intrusions.

    • The same phenomenon is happening along the South coast of Louisiana, where the Mississippi River delta is being artificially starved of flood waters by the myriad dikes and levees that keep the River navigable through New Orleans. Without the silt it needs, the delta is necessarily shrinking under the force of normal wave and tidal action. Much land is lost every year, due to a clearly anthropogenic cause. But it’s not climate change, it’s forcing the river to flow where we want it. But then the CAGW alarmists like to point to this singularly inapt coastline to bleat about sea level rise. One of the surest signs of sophistry and propaganda is the cherry picking of the coast line that LOOKS like it bolsters your cause, but really doesn’t.

  5. From WaPo: After a tumultuous month of hurricane activity, the tropical Atlantic has grown suddenly quiet following the fall of Lorenzo. Wednesday was the first time since Sept. 13 without a named tropical cyclone in the Atlantic. With the calendar inching us deeper into October and no signs of life for the time being, could we be watching the doors close on the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season? — 10/4/2019 article
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/10/04/atlantic-hurricane-activity-has-simmered-down-we-are-not-out-woods/

    Ummm…. if even WaPo is asking “where are the storms?” shouldn’t we be looking at that? Should anyone give credence to someone whose agenda is to make much ado about anything that is natural but can be turned into panic attack material? This guy is boring. Even if he had heard of subsidence, he’d ignore it because it isn’t part of his, uh, hmmm….. well, his meme.

    We’ve had – how many now? – years without more than one or two really, really, really bad storms in the Atlantic. What’s the problem? We’re having wetter weather, aren’t we? Soaks into the water table, doesn’t it? Kids may never see a real hurricane again. Think of the children!!!!!

    I must have missed the part that turns natural events into The End of Civilization.

    • “Wednesday was the first time since Sept. 13 without a named tropical cyclone in the Atlantic.”

      Since they name weaker storms now than in the past, it gives a false sense of increased activity.

      • I”ve looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down and still, somehow, it’s clouds’ illusions I recall. I really don’t know clouds at all. (Apologies to J. Collins, but it fits here.)

        I think that aptly describes the essential population group that we refer to as “greens” or “ecohippies”, or whatever. There also seems to be a population group of weather guessers who don’t really know clouds at all. I hope that group does not grow in numbers. We need real meteorologists, not thundersnow chasers.

        • Golly, I thought Thunderthighs would be the next villain, but I kind of like Thundersnow as the next Avengers Hero(ine): arriving in a blinding flash of lightning, bringing biting cold whirlwinds and stinging sleet mixed with snow, freezing stiff those Villainous Creatures like Thunderthighs, money-grubbing Climate Change Freaks, and Furries, and departing in a blizzard of popcorn snow: It’s Thundersnow!!!!

      • Hmmm … I wonder if that, what is it?, 10 or so year calm in major hurricanes hitting the US after AlGore (et. al.) had claimed there would be more of them had something to do with TWC deciding to start naming winter storms?
        To paraphrase that old Dorito’s slogan, “No major hurricanes? Don’t worry, we’ll name storms!”

  6. Careful, David, you are in danger of being called a factmonger. I was recently called this by a climate alarmist and she couldn’t understand why I burst out laughing. Apparently, “truths” matter more than facts these days.

    • “Factmonger” – Ooooooh, I like that!!!! It’s tee-shirtable!!!

      How about: Warning: Factmonger present! Take cover! Get to safe space now!!!

  7. Yellowstone, Norris Basin uplift: “I got yer climate change right here! Gimmie a [geological] moment!”

  8. David, many thanks for another interesting post.

    I understand the effect of GIA on tide gauges in this area of the US east coast. It also seems that satellite records overestimate the coastal records by quite a lot globally. I believe that this is attributed to incorrect GIA corrections (amongst other issues). Is this the same GIA correction referred to in this post?

    Also I think that it was Dave Burton back in 2016 who raised the issue that the warming of the top layer of oceans may mean that they become less dense than colder water below and thus rise up like a floating ice cube but don’t move laterally to affect coastal tide gauges. I couldn’t quite grasp this concept as he describes it in the text I have copied below. I can’t see why this less dense water would not flow laterally and thus affect coastal sea levels.

    Do you or any other readers perhaps have any comment on the validity of his idea? If he is correct it could explain much of the satellite record discrepancy.

    Burton text below:

    “But, most importantly, comparing coastal sea-levels, measured by tide stations, to open-ocean sea-levels, measured by satellites, is fundamentally a comparison between two very different quantities, like comparing apples to oranges.
    Satellite measurements of sea level include thermal expansion. In fact, the IPCC estimates that thermal expansion accounts for about half of current & projected sea-level rise. But thermal expansion has almost no effect on coastal sea-levels and tide gauges measurements.
    That might surprise you, but it should not surprise a physicist.
    To understand how density changes in the upper ocean affect sea-level, remember Archimedes’ Principle, or consider the case of floating ice. The reason that an iceberg sticks up out of the ocean is that it has lower density than the water in which it floats. The amount of water that it displaces depends only on its mass, not on its density or shape.
    Imagine an iceberg wrapped in a plastic bag. If it melts, its density increases, and the the exposed part that rises above the water sinks, but the volume of the iceberg below the surface does not change at all. If the iceberg in the plastic bag refreezes, it will rise up and protrude above the surface, but its displacement — the volume of seawater that it displaces — still will not change.
    Because the amount of seawater that it displaces is unaffected by changes in its density, when it freezes/expands or thaws/contracts, it causes no lateral water flows. Only the localized elevation of its upper surface changes. It does not affect sea-level elsewhere.
    Note that it is only the density of the floating object which matters, not whether it is solid, liquid, or slush. Displacement is measured in units of mass, and it isn’t affected by changes in density or solidity or shape.
    The reason for that is that gravity balances mass, not volume. The same thing happens with density changes in liquid water. The upper layer of the ocean floats like an iceberg on top of the very cold water in the ocean depths, and there’s little mixing between them. When water in the upper layer of the ocean warms and expands, it rises up in place, like a very stubby iceberg. Gravity balances mass, not volume, so the thermal expansion causes no lateral water flows.
    The exception to that rule is for water at the bottom of the ocean. If it expands, it has an effect similar to raising the ocean floor, which does cause lateral flows. But, in reality, that doesn’t happen at all in the deep ocean, where temperatures are extremely stable.
    Almost all thermal expansion takes place in the upper layer of the ocean. Only a small portion of the ocean is shallow enough for warming to reach the water at the bottom and cause thermal expansion there. That means only a small portion of the ocean’s thermal expansion can cause lateral water flows and affect sea-level at the shorelines.
    Without substantial lateral flows of water, there can be no significant effect on the coasts. Of course, temperature changes do affect the density of water at the shore, but that doesn’t cause the shoreline to advance or retreat. When water warms it gets deeper where it warms, by a (small) percentage of its depth. … Were that not the case, beaches would be wider and the shoreline would be further out to sea in the winter (when the water is cold) than in the summer (when the water is warm).
    In summary, it is a mistake to compare satellite-measured deep-ocean sea-level rise to tide gauge-measured coastal sea-level rise. Even if the satellite data were trustworthy (which it isn’t), and even if we had perfectly accurate numbers for PGR/GIA corrections (which we don’t), and even if we also had accurate corrections for local subsidence (due to factors like groundwater extraction, oil & gas extraction, etc.), and even if we had comprehensive tide-gauge coverage of all the world’s coasts, it would still be a mistake to compare coastal sea-levels and deep-ocean sea-levels, because they are different quantities. Comparing them is like comparing apples to oranges.”

    End of Burton text.

    • An interesting theory, but not correct.

      Consider a U tube as used in physics classroom. Add water, the water level in the two arms is the same. Add Bunsen burner to one side, above the level of the bottom of the tube. Heat. After warming the water in one side only, the level that side will be higher than the other side.

      Now, supposing you have a connecting tube just below the level of the water in the warm side, but above the level of the water in the cold side. Open the tap on this line and watch the water flow down hill to the cold side, thus restoring the equality of the levels.

      Here you have had a very substantial temperature, and therefore density difference. Effect is easily visible. In the open ocean/sea the difference in temperature will be small, and the coastal water temperature is likely to be warmer than the open ocean temperature (remember people swim in the English Channel and the North Sea close to the coast, where the water is warmer, but not, if they can help it, in the middle of the channel or the North Sea, where the water is cold.)

      Add the effect of waves, and drift due to wind friction, and any difference n levels would be masked, to such an extent that very few sea level meters would be able to detect any difference – and SFAIK, there are none in the middle of the oceans, seas, and certainly not in the English Channel or the North Sea. A tide gauge on a drill platform may be useful, but are there any installed?

      • Dudley Horscroft
        October 11, 2019 at 9:54 am

        Yes, Dudley, I think you’re right. I just can’t see how any warm water that might rise up could stay in place (unless it was in a very big version of your U tube). It’s all a connected system.

        However, Dave Burton did seem to be very convinced he was right and he does produce some good stuff.

  9. I have seen something like ghost forests in Northern Ontario, hundreds of km from the nearest salt water.

    I strongly suspect that there are other processes at work on the Delmarva Peninsula, not just a rather slow rise in sea levels.

    • I have seen something like ghost forests in Northern Ontario

      It’s a very common sight, cb. Usually the work of beavers damming a stream. Once their roots are flooded, the trees die. Or combined human-beaver activity (humans build road with culverts, beavers plug up the culverts). That’s what beavers do, just because they are beavers, but in a post-fact world, it’s better to blame human activity.

      But human ingenuity can fool the beavers. https://beavercone.com/

    • In tidewater areas like those all around the Chesapeake, this is a return to normalcy which occurred during much of the Holocene before the LIA. These people can’t see past their geological noses.

    • I grew up on a farm in northern Ohio. Our family was the second family to own the property. On this far was a stand of native hardwood trees of about 40 acres, that were there from the time the land was originally deeded. It was in a low area of the property and was never used for farming as it was to wet in the spring and would have been difficult to drain. Also, the Hardwood trees, Black Walnut, Chestnut and Oak were more valuable than crops. As a child I was amazed by the soil in this “mini forest” as I could easily dig by hand in this soil. The first few inches were crumbled leaves, the next foot or so were like peat moss, as you went beyond that depth the soil was like compacted peat moss which got firmer the deeper you went. This farm was one of the highest elevations in the county. On a clear night you could see the lights of three different cites more than 20 miles distant. Thus, though near Lake erie, we were far above any elevation to have water flooding this area from the lake. However, the land acted just like that in the article and of the other commenters to this post. Perhaps a reader can explain this to me.

  10. It is sad how political pressure forces scientists to warp things in order to fit a preconceived narrative, because there is much beautiful and remarkable in the ways ecosystems have responded to the geological changes that have occurred since the end of the ice age, yet all too often these really interesting facts are ignored in order to parrot the blasted Global Warming narrative.

    Besides the slow rise of the seas due to melting since the ice age there is isostatic depression and isostatic rebound, and also northward and southward movements of the range of certain plants as climate swings back and forth between climate optimums and mini-ice-ages. As plants constantly adapt to constantly changing conditions they leave hints of what the prior conditions were: Small pockets of seemingly out-of-place plants not usually found so far north or so far south.

    I have always loved rambling across the country side, just observing stuff. You don’t need a graduate degree in geology or botany to be “told” things by the country-side. But, if you want to “commune” with nature you do need to shut the bleep up, and avoid entering a landscape with too many preconceptions. Or, if you do have preconceptions, you need to gladly see them blown away by the amazing ways geology and botany works.

    There is much wonder, if you hike with your eyes open. Isostatic rebound is obvious along the northeast coast of Scotland, with wave-cut cliffs and terraces and wave-rounded cobbles high above the current high-tide line. Subsistence is obvious along the eastern USA where you have a species drowned and extinct along hundreds of miles of coast, except for small pockets at the tops of bays, hundreds of miles north from where the species now is usually found. In like manner small pockets of Montana spruce are found far to the south in north-facing gulches in Arizona canyons, and warmth-loving bushes on south-facing hollows in cold, New Hampshire hills.

    It is so cool to be stopped in your tracks by some small wonder, such as sassafras growing where you’d never expect to find it. It is great fun to stand and surmise, “How the heck did this get here?”

    It must be such a drag to have such wonder forbidden, and instead to always have to drone and bleat, “it is due to CO2.”

    • At least they haven’t blamed the leaning of The Leaning Tower of Pisa on “Climate Change”. (Yet)

      PS I remember listening to Bill Cosby albums when I was a kid. Hilarious! He remembered how his kid mind worked and exaggerated it into lots of laughs. At some point I learned he was black. That did more for me personally to realize that a kid is a kid no matter the color of their skin. No difference. We’re inherently the same. All members of the same “race”, the human race.
      Today, long after he made those albums, some won’t listen to them anymore or allow the scandals to dismiss him completely and so won’t learn that bit of good a flawed man communicated to a kid so many years ago.

      The connection to what you said? There are wonders to enjoy and be awed by in what surrounds us in the woods, the mountains, … even the tree in your yard.
      Don’t let a flaw, real or perceived, rob you of what good that man or woman did and don’t let “CO2phobia” rob you of what is to see what is around you.

  11. And how many ‘Ghost Forests’, sorry forests, were inundated when the Holocene began? The area of exposed continental shelf around the globe must have been absolutely huge and would not have been devoid of land life considering how long they were out of the water.
    On a slightly separate note, I’m guessing that the Whales that get lost in the North Sea may still be exploring new territory?

    • What are peat bogs now used to be marshland and swampland back in the long, long ago. At some point far off in the future, peat will become coal, but only if it isn’t mined for fuel and garden soil.

      Maybe we really do need another ice age. I’m pretty well prepped for it, anyway. And it would stifle the ecohippies and greenbeaners and warmunistas because no one is required to feed, clothe or house them.

  12. Maybe all this extra CO2 is causing record colds in the Northwest where Glaciers at Glacier National Park have grown by 25% in the last decade forcing NPS to take down signs saying glaciers to disappear due to Global Warming. Not sure how record cold might affect “Ghost Forests”.
    From Perspecta:
    A very active weather pattern continues across the US with a record-breaking cold air intrusion into the western US and unusual early season accumulating snow will spread northeast over the next couple of days from the Rockies to the Northern Plains. Daily temperature records have already been set today in in several western states as well as the southwestern part of Canada. In Great Falls, Montana where a foot of snow has fallen, temperatures have dropped to 0 degrees (F) today which is the earliest date in over 130 years of records (prior earliest date for 0 degrees was 10/27 in 1925). As much as two feet of snow has piled up in Pony, Montana and 18 inches in the capital of Helena in the western part of the state. At the end of September, more than 4 feet of snow was recorded in Glacier National Park (Montana).

  13. Conceptually, there is only one single static sea level across the entire planet, upon which various dynamic processes are at work on regional bases. If a given location is experiencing sea level rise that varies from the planetary-wide sea level rise, it can only be due to these dynamic processes, which include:

    1) Geologic uplift or subsidence, which arises from various factors including tectonic factors, and factors related to ice sheet variability and movement

    2) Hydrodynamic processes (currents and constrictions on currents due to underwater topography)

    3) Atmospheric processes (i.e., prevailing winds)

    Whenever someone is claiming “faster than normal” sea level rise at a given location without mentioning the dynamic processes at work, then they are bullshitting you, period. Or they are just plain ignorant and uneducated.

  14. Tik Root. Writing an article about trees. As in: Bejasus! I nearly broke me neck trippin’ over that tik root there.. Am I on candid camera?

  15. There are ghost forests up and down the east coast. Maritime forests on barrier islands come and go as the islands come and go with the shifting sand.

    ‘That means that when old trees die, there aren’t replacements.’

    Sure there are. Just not necessarily trees. Tik Root seems not to understand nature.

    • Anyone who has traveled the NYS Thruway has seen the large “ghost forest” in the Montezuma wildlife sanctuary. (US 20 runs several miles through the middle of the preserve.)

      Since I’m not a geologist I am unable to explain how SLR has impacted Seneca Falls NY.
      Maybe Matt Kirwin can explain it to me.

      • There’s a “ghost forest” of sorts south of Mt Gambier in South Australia, except in this case the trees are now petrified and under about 2m of sea water. Green lipped abalone like to hide in the hollows of the petrified stumps.

  16. Purposely confusing natural processes w/driving cars & turning on lights. Irrational (crazy is more apt).

        • USGS Circular 1392 says that the presence of the crater probably isn’t a significant factor. See pages 14+15.

        • D. J. Hawkins,

          Please reference Figure 2 (page 3) in your link. the northern margin of the impact crater is roughly half way up the Eastern shore in Virginia (Note that the green star for VIMS is located in Wachapreague). The Blackwater NWR is located in MD, much farther north (and just for sh!ts & giggles, I live just a couple miles from the location of the first photo in your linked reference. I wonder if the “minor tide” noted in the caption was Hurricane Isabel).

  17. “More than half of the sea level rise in the vicinity of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is due to subsidence.”

    More than half of the relative change of sea and land level in the vicinity of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is due to subsidence – the land is literally sinking.

    Fixed that.

  18. The answer here is simple:
    Switch to surface sources for fresh water and stop groundwater withdrawals, then drill high-capacity injection wells into saline aquifers. Fracking to the rescue!

  19. Subsidence can be a bitch, especially if you are ignoring it. Of course if you are a fan of fabrication and wishful thinking you don’t need it.

  20. The first error was reading a “popular science” report from a non-scientist. Most people can’t do basic arithmetic and are deathly afraid of any real SCIENCE with “reporters” perhaps being the least capable of all.

  21. One often hears that Geologists tend to be climate change skeptics, deniers etc because they are paid by oil companies. Actually their skepticism comes from knowing some things. Good post Dave.

  22. If every American had to show understanding of economics and geology in order to vote/run for office , we would have very few climate alarmists and socialists! And a lot fewer voters, as well. Win-win! snark/

  23. Dave ==> Very well done — the Chesapeake is SINKING and has been sinking for a long time. Sand bar islands come and go on century scales and alarmists cry “Sea Level rise” — well, they are right — RELATIVE SLR is a problem — a very local/regional problem in the area.

    Journalists need to study before writing —

  24. I worked for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in 1959-62 on the peninsula, in fact started the Wachapreague Eastern Shore Laboratory along with them changing their name from the Virginia Fisheries Laboratory. Ghost trees (pines) were not all that rare near the water, especially closer to the Chesapeake
    Bay mouth. It seems that another factor is the circulation in Chesapeake Bay where the lower salinities are found on the western shore with the higher intruding along the eastern, especially during drier years. It is a problem with the oyster fishery in Maryland, diseases and predators are mostly high salinity forms creeping up mostly on the east side.

    VIMS biologist working in Maryland? They have become quite activist sponsoring fish skeletons on Google Earth, check Oceans. Lots of poor homework. The Maryland refuge is a swamp.

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