SESYNC in The New York Times: SESYNC researchers discuss soils and saltwater intrusion in “As Sea Levels Rise, So Do Ghost Forests”

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Thursday, October 10, 2019 - 09:30


A planning workshop at SESYNC helped inform Kate Tully’s and Keryn Gedan’s research on sea-level rise and ghost forests, recently featured in the
New York Times.

Up and down the mid-Atlantic coast, sea levels are rising rapidly, creating stands of dead trees — often bleached, sometimes blackened — known as ghost forests.

The water is gaining as much as 5 millimeters per year in some places, well above the global average of 3.1 millimeters, driven by profound environmental shifts that include climate change.

A ghost forest
Photo: The New York Times

Increasingly powerful storms, a consequence of a warming world, push seawater inland. More intense dry spells reduce freshwater flowing outward. Adding to the peril, in some places the land is naturally sinking.

All of this allows seawater to claim new territory, killing trees from the roots up.

Rising seas often conjure the threat to faraway, low-lying nations or island-states. But to understand the immediate consequences of some of the most rapid sea-level rise anywhere in the world, stand among the scraggly, dying pines of Dorchester County along the Maryland coast.

People living on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay, the country’s largest estuary system, have a front-row view of the sea’s rapid advance, said Keryn Gedan, a wetland ecologist at George Washington University.

Continue reading at The New York Times.