Sea Level and the Jersey Shore

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen – 22 March 2021

Dr. Judith Curry has been writing about Sea Levels and New Jersey [and here], spurred on by a request for an evaluation of the topic from the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA).  The NJBIA is concerned because a study by a team of sea level researchers at Rutgers University has called for “draconian policies unsupported by science” that would “harm our economy today” by overreacting to “legitimate concerns about climate change, sea level rise, and flooding”.   Dr. Curry’s full report is titled: “Assessment of projected sea level rise scenarios for the New Jersey Coast”.

Dr. Curry’s CFAN report contains this summary:

The summary conclusions of the CFAN Review are:

—  The sea level projections provided by the Rutgers Report are substantially higher than those provided by the IPCC, which is generally regarded as the authoritative source for policy making. The sea level rise projections provided in the Rutgers Report, if taken at face value, could lead to premature decisions related to coastal adaptation that are unnecessarily expensive and disruptive.

—  Scenarios out to 2050 for sea level rise and hurricane activity should account for scenarios of variability in multi-decadal ocean circulation patterns.

—  Best practices in adapting to sea level rise use a framework suitable for decision making under deep uncertainty. The general approach of Dynamic Adaptive Policy Pathways is recommended for sea level rise adaptation on the New Jersey coast.

I wrote a piece here at WUWT a year ago, titled “Atlantic City:   I’ll meet you tonite…..”, prompted by the Governor of New Jersey’s executive order stating that  “New Jersey has set a goal of producing 100 percent clean energy by 2050.” and  “New Jersey will become the first state to require that builders take into account the impact of climate change, including rising sea levels, in order to win government approval for projects.”  The sea level rise part of this executive order was based on an earlier draft of  the same  study by researchers at Rutgers University

My Bottom Line in regards to sea level rise and building codes and restrictions for New Jersey was this:

“New Jersey, like many of the Atlantic states, has allowed unchecked development of its barrier islands, mostly over the last 70 years  — placing billions of dollars of infrastructure at risk along with a  million lives.  If the “threat” of climate change is a necessary goad to change this foolish behavior, then at least something good has come of the climate change scare.  It is long past time to rein in this self-destructive over-development of such fragile and by-nature-ephemeral environments.”

Currently about 500,000 people live year-round in single-family homes and one- and two-story apartments houses (along with some high-rise condominiums) on the “barrier islands” of New Jersey, such as the Barnegat Peninsula.  These barriers islands are sand-bars  (or barrier-bars) thrown up over the years by Atlantic storms and are occasionally torn down and cut into smaller pieces by those same Atlantic storms, including hurricanes. 

Barrier bars or beaches are exposed sandbars that may have formed during the period of high-water level of a storm or during the high-tide season. During a period of lower mean sea level they become emergent and are built up by swash and wind-carried sand; this causes them to remain exposed. Barrier bars are separated from beaches by shallow lagoons and cut the beach off from the open sea. They occur offshore from coastal plains except where the coasts are rocky; where the tidal fluctuation is great (more than 2 1/2 metres [8 feet]); or where there is little wave activity or sand. Barrier bars are common along low coasts, as off the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, where they parallel straight beaches. They often are cut by tidal inlets and are connected by underwater tidal deltas; they convert irregular shorelines to nearly straight ones.  [ source ]

For an example, we can look at Mantoloking, which was impacted by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  Note that Mantoloking is  “the second-wealthiest community in the state [New Jersey], is known for its Shingle-style houses overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Barnegat Bay. The Mantoloking Yacht Club has produced Olympic-champions.”  Let me translate that for readers:  Mantoloking is a little town exclusively for millionaires.  The median value for homes there is $1,305,600.00 (don’t mistake that median as a mean (average) value, the mean value is much much higher).  

Hurricane Sandy, October 2012, neatly cut NJ’s barrier island at Mantoloking.  It is interesting to note that the more common complaint about Atlantic storms is beach erosion, that they remove sand from the beaches, thus narrowing them.   In this case, Sandy added to the beach at Mantoloking. 

A couple of things to note from the slide show:  Back in 1985, they were using bulldozers to build a protective dune between the sea and the main highway.  By 2012, the entire strip between the highway and the dune had been filled with houses.  Hurricane Sandy cut a new inlet from the Atlantic Ocean into the enclosed sound, but in the rebuilding it was filled back in with sand.  In the present, there are four or five beach-front lots remaining empty.  This view is current as seen from the north. Just north a bit more up the highway,   less than a mile, the comparatively small house at 1007 Main Ave, right on the beach,  was recently sold for $4,500,000.

Shortly after the disaster, in which these poor unfortunate millionaires were inconvenienced by Hurricane Sandy, CNN ran a seven-minute video segment on “this little town fighting back”.  No mention is made of the fact these are the exclusive mostly-summer homes of millionaires. 

One salient fact is that the main intersection in Mantoloking, the corner of Highway 37 (which comes over the bridge and causeway from the mainland) and Ocean Ave (the main drag running north and south)  is shown on Google Earth to have an altitude of minus 4 feet.  Now, that may be off by a few feet, but we can certainly know from that fact that the whole town is approximately at today’s relative sea level and its Mean High High Water, within a foot or two.   Yet, with the exception of those few still-empty beach-front lots, Mantoloking has been totally built back, with larger more expensive homes. 

Bottom Line:

The Jersey Shore does not need to look to the future to see pending disaster – these communities are already at existential risk from the sea levels of today.  They were at existential risk from the sea levels of the past 50 years.  They will be become only minimally more at risk in the future.

When there is enough money involved, all the rule books are thrown out the window.  I don’t think that New Jersey will ever really pass —  or if passed,  enforce —  building restrictions on the rich and super-rich.  It is only the middle-classes that will bear the brunt of new restrictive building codes that will, in the end,  mean that only the rich and super-rich can afford to ignore the obvious, present-day threats of building homes on ephemeral sandbars – if their beach house gets swept away, insurance will build it back and in the meantime, they can live in their third home in the woods of Vermont or New Hampshire or move temporarily to their condo in the islands. 

In the long-run, there is no preserving the barrier islands of New Jersey or truly protecting the human developments there.   They are naturally temporary and changeable.  Nature will do with them as it sees fit in the natural order of things. 

Enforcing building codes to “hurricane proof” homes or to raise highways will only bring temporary respite from the reality that barrier islands come and go over time and nothing we humans can do will change that natural order. 

# # # # #

Author’s Comment:

In our sailboat boat, on our trips to and from the islands, we sailed past the back-yards of many of these millionaire enclaves that crowd the Atlantic barrier islands of the United States.  These trips are done in the early Spring (headed north) and the not-too-late Fall (headed south).  Most of the mansions were empty, it being off-season for the rich. 

In the Carolinas, we had friends that were marooned for weeks on barrier islands that had been cut off from the mainland by Hurricane Irene.  These hard-working folks had lived and worked the sounds, fishing and building work boats, for generations.  Their lives were mostly enhanced by the idiocy of the rich buying here-today-gone-tomorrow bits of sand and building homes that these regular folks could never even imagine being able to afford.

There seems no end to human stupidity.  (and I don’t exclude myself . . . you ought to read my as-yet-unwritten autobiography.)

# # # # #

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March 21, 2021 6:23 pm

If there’s a body of water somebody will want to build beside it, no matter how stupid the idea is.

Even on the Great Lakes the shore line changes. Every year there’s at least one news story about someone’s house about to drop into the water.

This has been going on forever. It’s not a secret. So, why don’t people clue in?

Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 21, 2021 7:02 pm

Your comment reminds me of this:

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe!

It’s attributed to Einstein but one of my favorite websites, Quote Investigator, has a lot to say about that.

Reply to  commieBob
March 21, 2021 7:07 pm
Reply to  commieBob
March 21, 2021 8:10 pm

Rebuilding on flood plains seems to be a human tradition and whenever legislation has been passed to prevent such rebuilding it has been removed or circumvented as long as the flood interval exceeds about 5 years. There is all that beautiful land just sitting there waiting to make someone rich.

I don’t really care if the rich build their pleasure domes on barrier beaches. What I mind is everyone’s insurance rates being jacked up to support them. That and the malarky about climate change, but I’m pretty sure no one in power cares what I think.

Brian Huvane
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 22, 2021 7:14 am

If you look at historical building patterns in the U.S., the people who came here in the 1600s and 1700s seemed to know better. The ‘old ‘ houses are invariably no closer to the shore than is safe. In my town(Fairfield,Ct), the historic district is a good mile from the beach. The area between the beach and the historic district is former salt marsh where until about 50 years ago, wash-out beach bungalows were the norm. Cheaper (subsidized) flood insurance led to the bungalows being replaced by houses which over time became bigger. Sandy destroyed a good number of them and now they have largely been replaced by 3 and 4 story homes with wash-out bottom floors.
The point being that 300 years ago, they knew the safe places to build. And if anyone built in the unsafe areas. one flood (and no subsidized flood insurance or government bailout)was enough to keep them from making the same mistake twice.

Tom in South Jersey
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 22, 2021 9:44 am

Fascinating. Thanks for the link to the Newport post. I was born there, but grew up on the Jersey Shore. Though my father’s family settled Aquidneck Island, we could no longer afford to live there. Now we can no longer afford Jersey, so now I live in the South. In high school back around 1980 my science teacher referred to places like Atlantic City and Ocean City as “temporary outer sand bars.”

March 21, 2021 6:23 pm

“The foolish man built his house upon the sand.”

Peta of Newark
March 21, 2021 9:46 pm

Would not the same apply to other ‘sandy places’
e.g. Texas or Australia in the very recent news

So why do fools create such places.
Why do they destroy and burn the plants and the soil in the creation of ‘sandy places’

Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 22, 2021 4:31 am

No, Newark Lincolnshire (?)

H. D. Hoese
Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 22, 2021 8:41 am

“ ….don’t think that New Jersey will ever really pass — or if passed, enforce — building restrictions on the rich and super-rich.”
Geologists have studied and known for decades (centuries?) about the ephemeral nature of barrier islands. Just down from New Jersey a community was long ago destroyed on Hog Island Virginia, moved out. Takes a lot of money to keep them inhabited.

   Even on the mainland, as after Harvey, both government and individual structures have been built too low, too high, too weak or incompetent construction. Rockport did not have the tidal surge ( near 3 meters) other areas did, but Navigation District office under construction still got close water, finished it too low. Despite a reasonable FEMA constultant report a house up the coast near the flamingo that gets dressed for the occasion was built with slab edge right on the bay, if nothing else will get spray in lesser winds. Others even inland have been forced to build higher. Texas put in their own Windstorm Insurance Corporation. Costs are higher than private.

March 21, 2021 6:42 pm

Thanks, Kip and thanks go to Dr. Curry, as well. Very interesting and amusing article.

2000 years ago people knew it was a bad idea to build their houses on sand. I guess some people just can’t learn.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7:24-27

Of course, they didn’t have insurance back then but you’d think the insurance companies and the Federal Gov. would learn if it is they who are providing the ins. Wait, what am I saying? The Federal Gov. never learns anything.

March 21, 2021 6:45 pm

Meanwhile in the land of droughts and flooding rains-
Incredible pictures show how 100-year super storm has hit parts of NSW (
No more bushfire threat problem there in the last week of summer weather by the looks. Notice how you’d have to be well over 60 to have experienced/remembered such weather so ignore the bleatings of anyone under retirement age that’s running around hysterically telling you the end is nigh with Gaia’s wrath. Take your sedatives griff et al.

Reply to  observa
March 21, 2021 7:29 pm

Australia – land of droughts and flooding rains.

The Hunter River is one of the major NSW North Coast waterways and flows into the ocean at Newcastle, a harbour and major coal loading port.

When the early settlers arrived they established the town of Maitland and nearby Morpeth where the first port facilities were located, today an area flooded again, but in 1950 Maitland had floodwaters reaching the main street shop awnings and as a result levy banks have been constructed to protect that area, the district farmland is flooded.

In the early 1800s first settlers met the local Aborigines and they explained that not long ago at that time the mighty Hunter River had dried up completely because of a severe drought, the tribes joined together peacefully and moved to the mountains where springs continued to flow until the next flooding rains arrived.

So climate hoaxers, creative warming trend modellers, can announce climate emergency every time a major weather event takes place but they are fools. Albeit political activists practising to deceive.

Reply to  Dennis
March 21, 2021 9:02 pm

And we have suburbs built in places with lovely, sonorous, aboriginal names. The names mean “Don’t camp here, you idiot.”

March 21, 2021 7:02 pm

Just to put it in perspective with all that dreaded plant food-

“The catastrophic November 1961 floods occurred soon after Warragamba Dam was built, where the Hawkesbury River reached around 14.5m above normal river height at Windsor.
But the largest flood since European settlement was in June 1867 where the river reached 19m above normal river height.”
Sydney’s biggest dam overflows enough water to fill Sydney Harbour (
..not to mention building lots of homes etc on the flood plain as you do when the memories fade.

Reply to  observa
March 21, 2021 7:38 pm

Warragambah Dam provides most of the water supply for Sydney, and the dam wall has been raised once but a proposal to raise it again has been rejected based at least in part on UN Agenda 21 – Sustainability and related Australian governments’ legislation and regulations based on the UN Treaty.

Despite UN HCR pushing for the population to be increased including refugee resettlement, but of course they are a different UN organisation following their own political agenda.

The other explanation is that raising the dam wall would, the critics claim, be environmentally damaging.

It seems that the UN foreign officials have no consideration for member nation welfare and prosperity, unless it is a developing nation according to the UN and then dam construction, coal fired power station construction and much more is permitted by the UN.

Or as UN Official Christiana Figureres admitted in October 2015 just before the Paris Conference, climate change agenda is really about attacking free market capitalism, read prosperous nations.

Reply to  observa
March 21, 2021 9:09 pm

Hold on there! Didn’t the sainted Tim Flannery of the Climate Council tell us that we would be in a permanent drought and our dams would never fill again? Shortly before Queensland became Lake Queensland in 2010?

I hope you are not suggesting he could be wrong.

March 21, 2021 7:07 pm

Thankfully John Kerry will get things under control with his new found powers as Climate Czar …

Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 21, 2021 7:40 pm

Maybe he has a secret family business plan to add as much CO2 into the atmosphere flying around the world, knowing that more CO2 would increase farm crop yields?

Do they have many rural investments?

Reply to  Dennis
March 21, 2021 8:33 pm

No his mate gates has thou

Reply to  Dennis
March 21, 2021 9:27 pm

Dennis: Maybe he has a secret family business plan to add as much CO2 into the atmosphere flying around the world, knowing that more CO2 would increase farm crop yields?

Think of all the tomatoes they need for Heinz Ketchup.
I think you’ve uncovered Kerry’s plan to increase tomato yields.
Big Ketchup is the secret cabal funding all the Greenies’ air travel.

Bill Powers
Reply to  John Shewchuk
March 23, 2021 10:15 am

It is not Man Made Global Warming we need to worry about but rather its the Super Wealthy, aka the faceless cultural elite, who instruct the politicians on what rights the rest of us peons should be allowed and how to apply necessary double standards.
Oh and worry about human ignorance being bred into the ute of the United Socialist States of America. The last great but crumbling barrier island of individual liberty in the world, the U.S. Constitution, is the baby being thrown out with the sea water.

The Central Authoritarians have the Public School manufactured ignorant swelling in numbers and clamoring for the John Kerry’s to save them from global warming and rising sea levels. As if the Government can do anything but create new, worse problems, thanks to the law of unintended consequences arising out of bureaucratic committee rules and regulations. 

As Mark Twain once said: “God made an idiot for practice and then he created the Committee.” I have observed no greater idiot than Ketchup Kan Kerry. Imagine the damage to quality of life and liberty that will be wrought by a committee of Kerry’s
Coming soon: Free “Smart” phones for everybody!  “Uncle Sugar what big eyes you have!”  “Why the better to see you with my dear…” 

March 21, 2021 7:14 pm

I agree entirely with your assessment of the Jersey shore. We/I gave up on the Jersey shore over 30 years ago. We have been going to the outerbanks for over 30 years. It’s a much saner local next to the ocean.

Jersey is much too crowded, the northern section of the outer banks had a better take on building on the barrier. There is mor vegitation than jersey ever had. This is all behind the dunes but it helps hold the island and they are of a much higher elevation than jersey, relatively speaking. The NC policy is to not impede the movement of the shoreline. If you wish to replenish the beach in front of your house, amen. The gov is taking no responsibility for your shore, they are only working to maintain access, roads.
that is why every once in a while a house falls into the surf. Either move it or lose it.

NC policy. Jersey is just plain dopey. I would move out of this state in a heartbeat if it weren’t for the grandkids. Going fossil free is insanity squared, and then tell me why PSEG is spending a Billion dollars upgrading their entire residential underground gas piping network in north jersey if we aren’t going to be using it in 30 years? The plastic piping try are using probably has a 200 year life span. Every one is converting from oil to gas and the old manufactured gas systems cannot handle higher pressures for more thruput ergo the upgraded system, also the ongoing leaks. The idiot environmentalists don’t know to put two and two together, if you burn NG vs oil on a BTU to BTU bases the CO2 drops. Of course these same people believe a NG leak will pollute the ground and waterways. NG rises.

March 21, 2021 7:16 pm

Kip writes:
If the “threat” of climate change is a necessary goad to change this foolish behavior, then at least something good has come of the climate change scare. It is long past time to rein in this self-destructive over-development of such fragile and by-nature-ephemeral environments.”

But what *is* the problem. The risks of barrier islands have been known since forever. Indeed, the original colonists of the 1600s knew better than to build there. The public policy should be clear.
1) No onerous government rules and regulations preventing people from doing what they want with their own property.
2) No government subsidized (read – taxpayer funded) storm or flood insurance.

With the government out of the insurance business, it is also out of the loss prevention business. The government now has no legitimate claim to powers needed for loss prevention.

People can do what they want, and they can pay for it.
Now there is no problem.

And we will remind the busybodies and the Karens among us that if someone builds there, so what. If it is not your property, it is none of your business and not your concern. Also if their home gets wrecked in a storm, it is still not your business. You are not paying for it, they are.

Again, No Problem.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 21, 2021 9:40 pm

Kip writes:
“But a huge percentage of the value of a town on a barrier island is made up of public infrastructure — roads, water and sewage systems, electrical grid.”

BS. Property taxes pay for everything you mention. Property taxes pay for everything. Therefor the value of a town is in the private property *not* the infrastructure. Also note that roads, water, sewerage is a pay-as-you-go operation.
Even still, if a town wants to protect it’s infrastructure (or not), that is a different issue than telling people what they can and cannot do with their own property.

“and taxes finance disaster repairs, new highways, new causeways and bridges, and new water and sewer systems.”

Fine, if a town wants to put new stuff on a barrier island, it is on them. If a town decides it is a bad idea, they can tell a developer, “Fine, you do it”.

Just as an aside:
Around here subdivisions get built up with all the infrastructure such as roads, water, sewerage all put in by the developer. And usually, the city then taxes the new owners for the infrastructure as “Property”. This is the reward not having the town put in the roads, water and sewer as “Infrastructure”.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 22, 2021 2:30 am

“And who pays to replace that infrastructure”

And who pays?
And who cares. As long as it is not me!
I do not live on beachfront property, I can not afford it. They live there, they need the infrastructure replaced, fine. They can pay for it.
Not me.
If they want “infrastructure” replaced after damage, that is fine with me.
If they decide that it is too expensive after repeated episodes, that is fine with me as well.

“And who pays to replace that infrastructure when a storm cuts it to pieces”

Oh Yes!!!!
Sugar Daddy Federal Government Pays For All.
Now Sugar Daddy slaps down *RULES*

Wrong. Wrong! WRONG!!!

March 21, 2021 7:19 pm

And you can bet a large number of these millionaires are climate change “tragics”. !

Oh look , we bought million dollar houses on a sand bar 1ft above high tide level in a hurricane area.

…. now… climate change… blah, blah !!

March 21, 2021 7:22 pm

What then is the ideal sea level? Thats what the climate change kooks need to answer.

Reply to  spock
March 21, 2021 8:37 pm

Down a hundred and twenty meters think of all the extra land /s

Frank from NoVA
March 21, 2021 7:43 pm

For the money, I can think of any number of places I’d rather build a home than on a narrow sand bar with a main drag running down the middle of it. However, I have a question about the Rutgers findings – how can they possibly be so oblivious to the fact that none of the nearby long-term tide gauge records (e.g., the Battery in NYC) have shown any change in the rate of sea level rise since the 19th century?

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 21, 2021 8:19 pm

Thanks Kip, I’ll check out your work here and at Dr. Curry’s site. I referenced “the Battery” data because it goes back to at least the 1860s. Like most data its noisy, but based on the graphs I’ve seen, there doesn’t appear to be any change in slope over time. Given that it’s just up route 9, why wouldn’t that be enough to tell NJ’s climate busybodies to go pound sand (no pun intended)?

March 21, 2021 7:48 pm

Superstorm Sandy wasn’t ever a hurricane when it made landfall and it was by no means unique. Many actual hurricanes have hit the Northeast coast. Planning along the eastern seaboard should have always accounted for the possibility of an actual hurricane and its associated storm surge.

In 1635 the “Great Colonial” Hurricane hit New York and New England, the “Dreadful” Hurricane of 1667 destroyed over 10,000 houses in Virginia, and the “Great Storm of 1693” devastated Long Island.  There were other hurricanes that made landfall in the Tri-State area – 1788 (left the Battery in ruins), 1821, 1893 (the second hurricane that year, different from the one that hit Halifax, Nova Scotia), 1944 (“Great Atlantic” hurricane), 1954 (Carol), and 1991 (Bob). The 1938 “Long Island Express” made landfall in Long Island as a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph and wind gusts up to 150 mph bringing waves surging to 35 feet. The Long Island Express makes Superstorm Sandy look like a breezy day in the park.

Hurricanes have also pummeled Canada’s Maritime Provinces many times before; in 1775, the “Independence Hurricane” killed at least 4,000 people in Newfoundland and an 1873 hurricane left 223 dead, destroyed 1200 boats, and flattened 900 buildings in Nova Scotia. Other hurricanes hit the Canadian Maritimes in 1866, 1886, 1893 (1st of two hurricanes that hit the Northeastern coast that year), 1959 (Escuminac), 1963 (Ginny), and 2003 (Juan).  

Robert MacLellan
Reply to  meab
March 22, 2021 3:31 am

You missed Igor in 2010 Newfoundland. A truly unbelievable amount of damage, Juan was a zephyr by comparison.

Reply to  meab
March 22, 2021 12:11 pm

The Canadian Maritimes were also hit by Hurricane Hazel in 1954, a tree fell outside our house just missing my bedroom. Toronto was hit badly by Hazel many killed in homes that were built on the flood plains of rivers running into Lake Ontario through the city. After Hazel rebuilding was not allowed in those flood plains which now allow wildlife and recreational opportunities.

March 21, 2021 7:50 pm

The existential threat is in not having a “superstorm sandy” to get federal money for NJ and Atlantic City. It’s economic development New Jersey style.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 21, 2021 9:35 pm

Unfortunately OPM means My Money, as I do not live in NJ 😕

Reply to  ResourceGuy
March 21, 2021 9:18 pm

Actually, I believe NJ has the largest net negative return on federal spending vs. taxes paid of any state… something on the order of -$2,500 per resident. It is a high-income, high tax state, with its income taxes and property taxes making it one of the highest tax states in the country, and suffers from getting little back from the federal government, something less than 40 cents on the dollar, if I recall correctly. But that’s OK, because they turn around and, through the state income tax distributions, give back less than 10 cents on the dollar to many, many towns and municipalities to send massive amounts of OPM to a couple of dozen failed cities, i.e., Democratic strongholds.

Reply to  BobM
March 22, 2021 7:09 am

That’s a common donor state statistic ploy they use in NJ and NY for official panhandling purposes. It does not take into consideration the unlimited state and local tax deductions for homes, second homes, beach houses, and state income tax fleecing. We’ll see if Uncle Joe does away with the GOP tax reform that capped SALT deductions. It will likely be in one of those late night omnibus bill votes.

March 21, 2021 8:58 pm

Now, that may be off by a few feet, but we can certainly know from that fact that the whole town is approximately at today’s relative sea level and its Mean High High Water, within a foot or two.”

Got news for you.
We fished Barnegat Bay, along Long Beach Island and Long Island Beach since the early 1950s.

That sand/sea level was the situation for Barnegat’s barrier islands back then and virtually unchanged today.

Mantoloking is well to the North side of Barnegat Bay, much closer to New York City. I believe the barrier island to the south of Mantoloking  is called Long Island Beach while the barrier island where the light house is located is know as Long Beach Island.

Even back in the sixties people in the Mantoloking area looked upon fishermen as degrading the neighborhood and that was before the era of million dollar houses.

Hurricanes have been overtopping New Jersey’s barrier islands since before Jamestown. Only the Native Americans were smart enough to eat their seafood, leave middens and retreat back inland.

Great Atlantic Hurricane (Sept. 1944)

There’s a good reason why New Jersey State Climatologist David Robinson calls the Great Atlantic Hurricane “the worst hurricane ever to hit New Jersey in the 20th century.” The damage unleashed by this storm was devastating along the entire coastline, with hundreds of homes on Long Beach Island washed out to sea and huge piers in Atlantic City split up into pieces.

A resident who witnessed the 1944 destruction in Atlantic City told The Star-Ledger decades later: “It picked up the boardwalk like toothpicks and threw it.”

This hurricane was so powerful that it swept large boats and barges onto land in Atlantic Highlands, grounded a large passenger boat in Keyport, crushed roads and sections of the boardwalk in Long Branch and destroyed the boardwalk and sea wall in Margate.”

The 1944 storm was ferocious, blasting the Jersey Shore with winds as strong as 96 mph and waves reported to be as high as 25 to 30 feet. Hundreds of homes were destroyed on Long Beach Island and hundreds more on the Barnegat Peninsula.

On LBI, the hurricane’s storm surge pushed vacation cottages off their foundations and deposited them blocks away. In Manasquan, the storm left 6-foot sand dunes along First Avenue, looking like snowdrifts. In Cape May, the grand piano in Convention Hall was reportedly washed out to sea.”

LBI is Long Beach Island.

Hurricane Connie (Aug. 1955)

Hurricane Connie was the first of two back-to-back hurricanes to strike the East Coast in August 1955, causing massive flooding in New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and New York City (pictured here).”

Hurricane Diane (Aug. 1955)

Hurricane Diane was significant because it struck just days after Hurricane Connie had swept through the mid-Atlantic region in August 1955, killing 26 New Jerseyans and destroying or damaging more than 3,000 homes in the Garden State.”

Hurricane Donna (Sept. 1960)

Hurricane Donna made landfall in Florida as a Category 4 storm, then moved north and remained strong for nine days, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph or higher. Although it did not make landfall in New Jersey, the storm packed powerful winds and caused massive flooding in the state.”

Hurricane Donna packed wind gusts as high as 105 mph in New Jersey in September 1960 and produced a storm surge of 6 feet along the Jersey Shore.”

Six feet of storm surge would easily flood most of New Jersey’s barrier islands back in 1960, though not much has changed today.

So much for NOAA sea level alarmism.

March 21, 2021 8:59 pm

Would anyone really miss it if it were inundated?

March 21, 2021 9:51 pm

Interesting posting. You can’t fight Mother Nature (or it’s very expensive). Same theme could be used for New Orleans or Galveston or Florida Keys or Great Lakes or…

Job security for the Army Corps of Engineers

Reply to  RelPerm
March 21, 2021 10:35 pm

The funny thing is that when the ocean inundates houses built on sand hills it becomes everyone’s problem as recently in Wamberal NSW about 5Km from my house, yet when houses are burned in Bushfires or flooded by a river it is the individual home owner and their insurance company’s problem.
In both cases in Australia, the local council has given building permission.

This is close to my heart as our local council is bankrupt, and our rates are to increase by 15%.

Yet the council has already spent AUD 2 million dumping rocks, and an “experts ” report has recommended the council put in another AUD 4 million for remediation which will cost AUD 40 million. All for a few millionaires as the houses go for upwards of AUD5 million.

Stephen Skinner
March 22, 2021 1:05 am

A threat that may be worse or realised in 2050 is NOT Existential

Definition of existential
1: of, relating to, or affirming existence existential propositions
2a: grounded in existence or the experience of existence : EMPIRICAL
2b: having being in time and space

Stephen Skinner
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 22, 2021 4:49 pm

Kip – I should have read your title more carefully and I stand corrected. I suppose I automatically responded to the word existential as it is more often used emotively and often about something that might happen in the future, in which case it cannot be existential.
e.g. Teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg has said that climate change is an “existential crisis” and has urged politicians to “listen to the scientists”.

Climate believer
March 22, 2021 1:12 am

“Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.” -Henry Brooks Adams

March 22, 2021 3:04 am

If people had to pay real market rates for insurance there would be little or no building in these flood-prone areas.

In certain flood-prone areas, the federal government requires flood insurance to secure mortgage loans backed by federal agencies such as the FHA and VA. However, the program has never worked as insurance, because of adverse selection. It has never priced people out of living in very risky areas by charging an appropriate premium, instead, too few places are included in the must-insure category, and premiums are artificially low.”

March 22, 2021 6:09 am

The Jersey Shore appears to be roughly sinking a foot per century beyond actual NOAA sea level rise, obviously we need to add an inch or two to counteract that foot and a half per century. There seems to be plenty of sand available offshore judging from recent inadequate renourishment efforts. Slope of the beach and shoreline needs to be considerably more gentle. Added groins (also called jettys) should be made of very rough texture very large stone or maybe interlocking concrete forms. A very rough structure absorbs the energy of the surf which obviously ricochets off of hard surfaces such as wood groins or metal sheet pilings like they appear to be installing now and carries the sand off with it.

Building by the sea ads big bucks to the state tax base, and big enjoyment to the residents and guests.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Fred
March 22, 2021 2:03 pm

Jetties used to exist all up and down the East Coast, all along the beaches they were built to stop erosion by limiting longshore drift.
It turned out they were net detrimental to the beaches, and so they were mostly removed over the years from most places.
Although in some cases they simply got buried.
Anything done to try to control the ocean and the physical processes that take place on shorelines, is bound to fail, either slowly over time or suddenly and specacularly.
The ocean during a storm laughs at anything people do.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
March 22, 2021 3:23 pm

We always called all of them strips of huge rocks jetties, but I think you are right that
the ones on beaches are more properly called groins.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Fred
March 22, 2021 2:05 pm

Beaches used to have massive sand dunes in places like New Jersey.
They were removed in most places because they block the view of the water from the houses people have built over the years.
I recall in the early 1960s we spent a Summer at Stone Harbor, and at that time the dunes were taller than houses.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 22, 2021 3:10 pm

True, sand is always shifting.
But they did have grasses that stabilized them to some degree.
I do not think that eliminating them was part of anything that happened naturally.
They made it hard to get to the beach, and impossible to see it.
There would be only one or a few places one could get onto the beach…rather than at the end of every street like it is now.

I have looked for pictures of what the beaches in New Jersey looked like before the entire area was peranently and completely altered, but it was very different…that much I can tell from my memories as a little kid.
I think even towns like Stone Harbor had few people that stayed all year around.
The country got far more prosperous starting in the 1980s, and a lot of people wanted second homes near the beach.

BTW…almost all of my time spent back pror to the 1980s at the Jersey shore was in South Jersey. Ocean City down to Cape May.
I am not at all familiar with the towns closer to New York.
But I do recall one time up there, we were walking down the beach in the surf zone and we came to a place that had signs saying it was trespassing to go any further, and when we ignored them, knowinbg as we did that no one owns the surf zone, people ran up to us and demanded we turn around and never come back!
They knew it was illegal to do that, but we were teenagers and they also knew we could not do anything but leave.
I think that one time pretty much ensured we went to beaches down where no one tried claim they owned them.

March 22, 2021 6:24 am

You could safely build on a sand bar. All you have to do is build a hull instead of a basement. concrete canoes

March 22, 2021 6:29 am
AIR CONDITIONING THE MOTHER EARTH (Climate Change Third Group by Raveendran Narayanan)
3°C Reduction is possible by capturing DE-ICERS from Desalination SYSTEMS.
#raveendrannarayanan #HUMANRIGHTACTIVIST #airconditioningthemotherearth #WorldWaterResearcher

Brian Pratt
March 22, 2021 6:31 am

Same sort of issues involving riverbank slumping along stretches of the North and South Saskatchewan River. Despite all the evidence in publications and what you can see with your own eyes, people have still built too close, decks and stairways have collapsed etc. Probably cyclical due to times of extra groundwater. A few years ago Saskatoon spent more than $500 per centimetre to shore up part of a street along the top of the riverbank in front of several big houses.

Barnes Moore
March 22, 2021 6:43 am

I am one of the stupid people who purchased a house on Amelia Island in Florida in 2013. We moved here from NJ in 2015 (not the Jersey Shore – we were about 10 miles or so from the ocean) where we lived for 29 years. I have been up and down the Jersey Shore and saw the devastation first hand from Sandy. Amelia Island is the northern most barrier island in Florida. Directly across the St. Mary’s River is Cumberland Island, the southern most barrier island in Georgia. As you go up the St. Mary’s River a mile or so (maybe more), you come to the King’s Bay Nuclear Sub station. Amelia Island benefits from Kings Bay in that every year, the St. Mary’s River channel is dredged to make sure the channel is deep enough for the subs to pass – and the sand gets dumped on Amelia Island. It is very interesting to see what happens over the course of the year after the dredging when we inevitably feel the effects of some hurricane even if we do not take a direct hit – being that the north Florida coastline pinches in to where we are pretty much due south of Cleveland, we are not as hurricane prone for Atlantic hurricanes as most other locations along the coast. While property values on Amelia Island have substantially increased over the last couple of years, they are still nothing like New Jersey – living in NJ is quite expensive compared to Florida and during this past year, we have seen a northern invasion from NJ, NY, CT and the rest of New England, for that matter, as they flee lockdown happy governors in favor of some sanity. The reason people come here is that it is a wonderful place to live. The beach is great, the town of Fernandina Beach is very charming with lots of interesting history and a lot of nice restaurants. People love water and the beach which is why population densities are higher on the coasts than in the heartland – that will never change. We are fortunate to live in an age where we have benefitted from the abundance of cheap, abundant, and reliable energy – provided mostly by fossil fuels – that allows us to build reasonably resilient infrastructure so that we can live pretty much anywhere we want. There are are few, if any, locations that are immune to some natural disaster – earthquakes in SF, tornado alley in the mid west, surprise severe winter storms, droughts. floods, etc. What gives us the ability to rebuild, or hopefully, simply repair, is the machinery powered by fossil fuels along with tools and other materials that would not be possible without them. Governor Murphy and others promising net zero are prime examples of useful idiots who likely have not even considered the impossibility of rebuilding or repairing using energy derived from wind and solar. We are in the process of watching a train wreck, and under Buyden, the train is gaining speed.

By the way Kip, John Anderson’s version of Atlantic City is also very good – almost indistinguishable from the Band. Both are far better than Springstein’s version, IMO.

Barnes Moore
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 22, 2021 10:20 am

Agreed. When they told us to leave for Mathew and Irma, we left a few days before the mass exodus started. We are lucky however. I have a brother who lives in South Carolina a long way from the coast so we just go there. A whole lot of people in FL don’t have that kind of option and getting hotel rooms can be tricky. I know several people who stayed, and their experience was less than serene. By the way, if you have never stopped at Fernandina Beach on your voyages, you should check it out. There is a nice marina where you can easily dock and from there you can easily walk the entire city and enjoy it’s charm. Also, jsut want to say I appreciate your posts, very informative.

John Bell
March 22, 2021 7:50 am

Crazy to build on a flimsy sand beach like that.

March 22, 2021 7:50 am

Apparently, today is World Water Day.Got this in my email. Why are these people so obsessed with Donald Trump? It’s psychiatric.

Hi Phil, 
World Water Day is a time for reflection. And ACTION. 
By now, it’s clear to almost anyone paying attention just how important clean water is for all kinds of things, starting with our own health, even here in the U.S. Even before Trump’s Dirty Water Rule and the pandemic, access to clean drinking has not been universal. 
Don’t Take Clean Water for Granted. Donate now to reverse the Dirty Water Rule and other dangerous rollbacks. Our water needs us now.

Donate now. Indeed I shall make sure I take a p!ss in the Bay today. Is it tax deductible?

March 22, 2021 9:13 am

spend many a fun summer weekend in Bayhead and Mantoloking and its always been one big storm away from destruction … many of the homes there are built on stilts in recognition of the possible storm surge … they are testaments to “anything is possible for the right price” …

March 22, 2021 9:25 am

These people didn’t read the book “Chesapeake” by James Michener published in 1978. He wrote about how the native americans recognized how those beaches and islands were alway in a state of flux. Some growing and some disappearing., always changing.

Steve Z
March 22, 2021 10:01 am

People just love beaches, especially sandy ones, where a person can walk barefoot into the water without worrying about rocks (although shells and certain sea creatures can be nasty on bare feet).

The New Jersey shore normally doesn’t get high storm surges, because most of the strongest storms are centered off the coast, with wind out of the northeast (nearly parallel to the shore) as the storm approaches, and out of the northwest (offshore) as the storm’s center passes farther north, usually east of Cape Cod. .

Hurricane Sandy was a rare exception, since its eye came ashore near Atlantic City, and shore towns to the north had strong winds out of the east and southeast, with a long stretch of open water (fetch) to build a high storm surge aimed directly at the barrier islands. But Sandy should not be blamed on “global warming”, since its center was forced westward by an unusually cold anticyclone (high pressure) over the North Atlantic, and Sandy also caused heavy snow in West Virginia in late October.

In Europe, where the strongest winds are out of the southwest, people don’t build houses close to the shore, but usually on rocky bluffs some 20 or 30 feet above sea level. Some sandy beaches get flooded at high tide, but people are careful to plan an escape route toward higher ground before high tide arrives.

Interestingly enough, when the duke of Orleans (France) sent a group of colonists to build a city in Louisiana during the 1700’s, the colonists wrote letters back that they wanted to buiild the city up and away from the river (Mississippi) due to frequent floods and tempests. Unfortunately, the great duke in his cozy French castle on a hill didn’t heed the advice, and La Nouvelle Orleans was built in its present location, and still suffers from frequent floods and tempests!

Nicholas McGinley
March 22, 2021 12:31 pm

Hi Kip,
Good essay here, and I appreciate your taking the time to inform us about these issue.
There is a certain bit of it that seems hard to follow from the descriptions you referenced from the “Brittanica” source material.

I do not think that their description of what a barrier island is, is correct.
The quoted source is unclearly written, and there seems to be some conflation of what exactly a barrier island is, with the different thing called, by lay people in common usage, a sand bar, and then the other seperate thing called a “barrier bar”
What really helps to understand all of this is a very good description from a physical geography textbook.

Physical geographers have learned that a barrier island is a structure that occurs in what are called shorelines of submergence, as opposed to those that are called shorelines of emergence.
The distinction between these two types of coastlines is very clearly seen when the East and West coasts of the US are compared (including the Gulf of Mexico in the category of East coast of the US).

The East coast of the US and the coastlines of the Gulf of Mexico have been eroding away over eons of geological time, tens of millions of years, without any substantial tectonic uplift. All sorts of topography typifies such coastlines, and it can be seen from such studies that they are gradually becoming ever more submerged…again over geological time periods, not historical ones.
It needs to be kept in mind that fluctuations in sea level and due to glacial and interglacial periods, as well as isostatic crustal movements as a consequence of ice sheets forming and then melting away over and over again, are not what is described here. Those are all seperate, and tend to complicate the situation being discussed.
But one has to start at the beginning, and the East Coast of the US has had the basic characterisitics it has now for many tens of millions of years, long before the Quaternary Ice Age commenced.

Barrier bars are separated from beaches by shallow lagoons and cut the beach off from the open sea. They occur offshore from coastal plains except where the coasts are rocky; where the tidal fluctuation is great (more than 2 1/2 metres [8 feet]); or where there is little wave activity or sand. Barrier bars are common along low coasts, as off the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, where they parallel straight beaches. They often are cut by tidal inlets and are connected by underwater tidal deltas; they convert irregular shorelines to nearly straight ones.”

From what anyone who has ever been or lived near one knows, this passage may be a good description of a barrier bar, but it is not what a barrier island is, or even exactly what people who live on the Beach in New Jersey call a sand bar.
Barrier islands are akin to sand bars, but at a larger fractal scale of time and size.

Some other relevant details re beachs, sand, storms, and the differences between gentle and rough surf, and how these types of beaches change every year between Fall and Winter and then Summer. and back to Fall and Winter, involved the movement of sand from the beach to the offshore litoral zone (note that the term “litoral zone” itself has several definintions, and those used by physical geographers is somewhat distinct and specific, and is also from other usages).
In general, the slow period and low amplitude waves that are typical of Summer on the East coast of the US will bring sand from the offshore litoral zone to the beach and deposit it in the intertidal zone, widening the beach and making it relatively flat to gently sloping.
This is in contrast to the large waves that occur when large storms are offshore, and when geostropic winds are far stronger, such as occurs regularly from Fall until Spring on the East Coast of the US.
These larger waves do the opposite of gentle waves. Large waves tend carry sand offshore, often very rapidly, and cause the beach and the intertidal zone to become very steep and narrow.
This situation was long misunderstood by various people and agencies, and it was assumed that storms eroded sand away and destroyed the beach. But all they did was move it offshore. It will eventually retrun.
However, locales that have lots of people that are used to having wide flat beaches all Summer typically do not want an education in landforms…what they want is the beach they are accustomed to, to be replaced.

So, anywho…East and Gulf Casts of the US…shoreline of submergence. Hurricanes cut inlets in barrier islands, but they can also fill them in, and add entirely new areas to barrier islands, as well as overwash them and move them by several feet towards or away from the mainland.

The West coast of the US is the other kind…it is a shoreline of emergence. Over geological spans of time it is being uplifted tectonically, as North America plows westwards a few inches a year into the Pacific plate (and previously the now all but vanished Farallon plate that was eastward of the spreading center that extends from the mouth of the Gulf of California and from there southwards is called the East Pacific Rise. Some fragments of this plate remain under different names here and there, Jaun de Fuca, Gorda, Cocos, etc).

There are no barrier islands offshore of this type of coast, and there is typically deep water relatively close to shore.
The coastlines tend to be rocky, there are few wide sandy beaches, caves are common, as are high bluffs and cliffs.
These are not places where the ocean has been working on the same rocks at the same elevations over millions of years, as is the case on the US East and Gulf Coasts…ice age fluctuations notwithstanding.

Note that the ice ages complicate the emergent/submergent shoreline paradigm immensely.
Sea level rose hundreds of feet in the past 12,000 years.
It is helpful to consider what the case was before the Quaternary Ice Age started, and this is what I am referring to here, mostly.

March 22, 2021 4:02 pm

Even the Christian Bible cites the foolishness of building a house on sand. Here from the book of Matthew:

shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”

This is 2,000+ year old knowledge. Simple people who thought the Sun orbits the Earth, knew don’t build your house on the sand.

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