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Ocean Adaptation

December 21, 2009

Coastal ecosystems are threatened by rising sea levels.


Between development and the deep blue sea. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

With rising sea levels, there is concern about the thousands of miles of developed coastal property in the country. Biological oceanographer James McCarthy, at Harvard, says we may overlook the threat to the thin intertidal area that sits between the human development and the ocean.

MCCARTHY (Harvard University):
There are barriers for the migration of marsh ecosystems, the whole coastal ecosystems, the intertidal ecosystem, that will inhibit the full development of that group of organisms and their communities further up-shore which, of course, is what you would have expected to have happened if those areas weren’t developed.

These ecosystems are critically important as nurseries for ocean life and purifiers of ocean water. As the ocean rises, these ecosystems can’t simply move inland. Protecting these natural resources from the effects of climate change could prove even more daunting than protecting property. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.