The Stream, February 5, 2020: Sea-Level Rise Along U.S. Coastlines Surged in 2019

The Global Rundown

Sea-level rise accelerated along U.S. coastlines in 2019, data shows. Aid groups fear disease outbreaks in Syria after fighting displaces more than 500,000 people in the past two months. Forecasts of high water levels prompt Bay City, Michigan, to request a state flood disaster declaration. New technology helps scientists understand the complex water system serving Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. Ongoing research reveals the pervasiveness of PFAS chemicals. 

“The more you try to study it, the more you try to understand how widespread this contamination is, the more you realize how the entire globe and all of our drinking water and food systems are contaminated.” –David Andrews, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, in reference to the ubiquity of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These “forever chemicals” are estimated to be in the bloodstream of 99 percent of Americans, and some scientists believe that nearly all of the country’s surface water is likely contaminated. The Guardian

In context: From Michigan to the Nation — A Groundwater Emergency.

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

What’s Up With Water – February 3, 2020 — This week’s edition of What’s Up With Water includes coverage on drought in Zimbabwe, a water-related no-confidence vote in Bulgaria, and Miami’s long-term strategy for addressing sea level rise. 

HotSpots H2O: Violence Flares in Africa’s Sahel, Intensifying Water and Sanitation WoesViolence is on the rise in Africa’s Sahel region, aggravating existing water and sanitation struggles in countries where previous rounds of fighting cut access to water sources.

By The Numbers

7,000 Possible number of sinkholes on the Kaibab Plateau near the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, up from a previous estimate of only 100, according to researchers at Northern Arizona University. The water system that serves Grand Canyon National Park is a intricate web of sinkholes, springs, and underground channels that has long baffled scientists. New high-resolution remote sensing data, however, has helped researchers map the area’s water system, and will aid land managers in protecting the resource. AZ Daily Sun

520,000 People displaced in Syria since December 1, 2019, as the Russian-backed Syrian government wages war on rebels in the country’s northwest. The fighting is exacerbating food, water, and healthcare shortages, and UN officials warn that disease outbreaks are increasingly likely. Al Jazeera

Science, Studies, and Reports

Twenty-five of 32 tide-gauge stations along the U.S. coastline showed an acceleration in sea-level rise in 2019, say scientists at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). The highest rates were found in Grand Isle, Louisiana, and Galveston and Rockport, Texas. The quickening pace of sea-level rise began around 2013 or 2014, say VIMS researchers, and is likely tied to ocean dynamics and melting glaciers. The Guardian

On the Radar

A year of high water levels is forecasted for the Saginaw River and Lake Huron, prompting Bay City, Michigan, to submit a declaration of shoreline disaster request to state officials. If approved, the declaration will provide funding for past and future flood damages in the city. Other nearby townships have also submitted requests. MLive

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