Coastal geologist Stan Riggs, who tracks the ups and downs of North Carolina’s shoreline, needed a bullhorn to make himself heard above a roaring nor’easter that had toyed with the Outer Banks for two days.
He climbed down from the ridge of a DOT-built dune narrowly separating N.C. 12 from the boisterous Atlantic Ocean. A bleached house named WAVE BREAKER seemed to be stilt-walking into the surf – but, really, the island itself was slipping out from under this cottage in a shrinking subdivision called Mirlo Beach.
“There was a whole development out here, on the seaward side of this house, that had already gone to sea before they started Mirlo Beach,” Riggs said. Then he was cut short as a sneaky wave bathed his boots in foam. He scrambled to keep his balance and scampered away from the surging tide.
“Sea-level rise is pretty gentle, and it’s slow,” Riggs said. “The drivers of this system are storms. If sea level is rising and we don’t have storms, it’s going to go gently. But we do have storms.”
There’s not much dispute these days, up and down the coast, about whether the ocean is rising. The question is: How high will it go here, and how fast?
Read more at the News & Observer: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/03/15/3702235/while-the-seas-rise-science-waits.html