Tag Archives: Washington coast

Ocean acidification gets attention in four bills passed by the U.S. House

The issue of ocean acidification gained some traction this week in the U.S. House of Representatives, where bipartisan support led to the approval of four bills designed to bring new ideas into the battle to save sea life from corrosive waters.

If passed by the Senate, the legislation would allow federal agencies to set up competitions and offer prize money for the best ideas for reducing ocean acidification, adapting to ongoing changes or solving difficult research problems. The bills also foster discussions about climate change by bringing more people to the table while providing increased attention to the deadly conditions that are developing along the coasts and in estuaries, such as Puget Sound.

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer

“We know that changing ocean chemistry threatens entire livelihoods and industries in our state, said U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, in a press release. “There are generations of folks in our coastal communities who have worked in fishing and shellfish growing — but that’s endangered if we don’t maintain a healthy Pacific Ocean.”

Later in this blog post, I will reflect on other Kilmer-related issues, including the so-called Puget Sound Day on the Hill.

In a phone conversation, Rep. Kilmer told me that he was encouraged with the widespread support for a bill that he sponsored called the Ocean Acidification Innovation Act of 2019 (HR 1921), which passed the House on a 395-22 vote. The bill would allow federal agencies to sponsor competitions and offer prize money for the best ideas. Money would come out of existing funds that agencies use for related purposes. The bill was co-sponsored by Northwest Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, along with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, an Oregon Democrat, and Rep. Don Young, an Alaskan Republican. Five representatives from coastal areas in other parts of the country added their names to the bill.

“There is a legitimate problem, and people are beginning to see the impacts of the changing ocean chemistry,” Derek said. “This should a bipartisan issue.”

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Map of sea level predictions can assist waterfront owners

A sophisticated analysis of sea-level rise in Puget Sound and along the Washington Coast offers shoreline residents and land-use planners a new map-based tool to assess potential flood hazards for the coming years.

Click on map to access online interactive map
Map: Washington Coastal Hazards Resilience Network

Sea-level rise depends on two factors: how fast the oceans rise and the rate of vertical land shifts. Uplift, such as what occurs along the Washington Coast, slows the rate of sea-level rise relative to waterfront property. Subsidence, which occurs in Central Puget Sound, results in elevated tides sooner than in stable or uplifting areas. One map on this page shows the measured uplift and subsidence and another shows the uncertainty in that measurement.

Ian Miller, a coastal hazards specialist at Washington Sea Grant, has worked on studies that describe sea-level rise in Island County and on the Olympic Peninsula. The new report, titled “Projected Sea Level Rise for Washington State” (PDF 10.4 mb) goes well beyond what he and his colleagues have done before. It takes a more detailed look at where the land is uplifting and subsiding, according to Miller, the lead author on the new report that involves work by scientists at Sea Grant and the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group.

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Amusing Monday: Virtual trips to the beach

Only a few us have traveled to London to see the Olympics, and I am not among them. But we can still enjoy our favorite sports by way of television and some incredible technology. In the same way, we can take a virtual tour of London with Google’s Street View.

I know it’s not the same thing, but I remain fascinated by the imaginary sight-seeing trips anyone can take by computer to many places throughout the world.

In a moment, I’ll tell you about a virtual trip you can take to the Washington and Oregon coasts along with some great scenic tours of Hawaii.

First, a website called “British Beaches” will transport you to the vicinity of nearly any beach you want to see in Great Britain. There are so many beaches on the list that I didn’t even try to count them all. Some of the Street View locations are closer than others.

The Street View image on this page shows police officers taking a break at a beach in Moughna, County Claire, Ireland. View larger map

To travel by Street View, first click on the site “British Beaches,” then choose an area: Channel Islands, England, Ireland, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales. After picking a county or region, you can choose a beach. Or you can do what I do: just randomly jump around.

Once you click on the name of a beach, you’ll get basic information about the beach — including environmental features, activities and transportation. But the fun part is exploring by clicking on “Google Map/Street View.” From the map, choose a location, drag the little man over to any spot in blue and then drop him into place. Suddenly, you are there.

If you are not familiar with Street View, you need to know that you can turn in any direction by using the little wheel in the corner. You can virtually “drive” down the roads shown in blue as you look for something interesting. To get back to the map, click the “X” in the upper right corner.

Google, which celebrated five years of Street View in May, has set up a series of slide shows with Street View showing different places in the world. Check out “Scenic Hawaii,” which includes many wonderful beaches.

Street View also has taken pictures of many communities along the Washington and Oregon coasts. But if you want to be there NOW in real time, check out the website by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which shows you live pictures of several beaches along with the local weather forecast. It’s a great way to get an idea of what you might run into before you go — though we all know the weather can change rapidly.

Waimea Bay, Oahu, Hawaii. (Click on image to visit site.) / Street View Gallery