Erosion Overview

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Anonymous.

Terrestrial Sequestration

Trees are essential for maintaining a healthy natural environment, as they help prevent erosion. To combat the effects of global warming and desertification, the Spanish Government has committed to planting 45 million trees within the next four years. This ambitious initiative aims to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, which is the primary contributor to global warming. It is projected that, over time, these trees could absorb more than 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Soils found in nature hold carbon in the form of organic matter. However, when this matter is exposed to oxygen in the atmosphere, it reacts with it and produces carbon dioxide, which contributes to the greenhouse effect and global warming. It’s unfortunate that soil is losing its organic matter due to changes in land management practices, evolving soil management techniques, changes in rainfall patterns, and increasing temperatures.

 The primary way carbon is transferred from soil to the atmosphere is through soil respiration. Every year, an estimated 50-75 gigatons of carbon are released through this process, which is ten times more than what’s released through fossil fuel combustion. Soil contains a large amount of carbon, so even small changes in the respiration rate can significantly impact atmospheric CO2 levels. Carbon can also move from land to sea, affecting both ecological systems and having a global impact on the carbon cycle. This cycle is crucial for climate change research.

 According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Arctic and other polar regions are highly sensitive to climate change. The panel warns that these areas are especially vulnerable to rising temperatures and predicts that by 2070, the Arctic will experience minimal ice cover during the summer.

 Did you know that Arctic soils store more than 30% of all carbon found in soils worldwide? When permafrost thaws, additional greenhouse gases may be released, contributing to global warming. Strong winds can cause erosion, making them a “forcing” mechanism. Wind produces waves, which can lead to coastal erosion. Alaska has experienced rising temperatures, resulting in melting permafrost, dying forests, reduced sea ice, and increased coastal erosion. Native communities have settled in coastal areas for hunting, fishing, and transportation, and they’ve employed man-made barriers, such as sea walls, to combat erosion. While these measures have been somewhat effective, as open water areas grow, wind and wave effects also increase, eroding away temporary solutions.

 Recent warming has degraded large sections of permafrost, with pockets of soil collapsing as the ice within it melts. The results include buckled highways, destabilized houses, and drunken forests of trees that lean at wild angles. Warming-induced changes in tundra vegetation and plant life threaten caribou, reindeer, and migratory bird populations. Loss of sea ice and wildlife also makes indigenous life in the Arctic increasingly difficult, endangering an entire way of life.

Rising temperatures cause sea level rise in two ways. Because water expands as it gets warmer, the upper layers of the ocean are expected to expand. Also, the heat is causing glaciers in Greenland, North America, and the Antarctic to melt, releasing water trapped for at least tens of thousands of years. Glacial melting can accelerate itself. As melting begins, torrents of water flow off and underneath the glacier, acting as a lubricant and accelerating its slide toward the sea. ’Once that starts melting, it’s like Vaseline under it.’

 There is an important question that remains unanswered regarding the Arctic’s fragile ecosystem and how it will react to the rapid warming. Will the retreat of sea ice lead to an acceleration of coastal erosion, heightened methane emissions, or faster growth of shrubs in tundra regions? Unfortunately, due to the loss of habitat caused by global warming, the polar bear population is expected to decrease by 30 percent in the next 35 to 50 years.

Sea Level Rise Could Be Worse Than Anticipated

It has been suggested by a recent study that the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet due to global warming, which many experts believe could happen, may result in a much greater rise in sea levels than is currently estimated. This could have major consequences for both the United States and other regions worldwide.

 There is cause for alarm as experts predict a significant rise in sea levels globally. The increase could reach an average of 16 to 17 feet in various parts of the world. In Washington, D.C. and other locations, the rise could be as high as 21 feet, which could result in devastating flooding. This could have severe implications for coastal areas and may even cause some parts of southern Florida to become submerged.

 A report set to be published in the Science journal on Friday warns that Southern Florida is facing a high risk of being submerged due to severe impacts. The study was conducted by researchers from Oregon State University and the University of Toronto, and it was funded by the National Science Foundation.

“We aren’t suggesting that a collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is imminent, “ said Dr. Peter Clark, a professor of geosciences at Oregon State University. “But these findings do suggest that if you are planning for sea level rise, you had better plan a little higher.”

 The study was funded by the National Science Foundation. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that the possible disintegration of the ice sheet may cause a global increase in sea levels, which could be around 16.5 feet. However, this calculation does not include some crucial factors such as gravitational forces, alterations in the Earth’s rotation, or the current supporting land’s rebound.

 According to a recent study conducted by experts, there is currently a massive ice sheet covering a vast area in Antarctica. This ice sheet is equivalent in size to Texas and stands over 6,000 feet above sea level. Scientists have explained that this ice mass has a substantial gravitational pull, which draws water towards it. This gravitational force is comparable to that of the sun and moon.

 A study was done more than 30 years ago pointing out this gravitational effect, but for some reason, it became virtually ignored,“ Clark said. “People forgot about it when developing their sea level projections for the future.

 The gravitational forces of the moon and the sun are responsible for the tides on Earth. Recently, a study has examined how the weight of ice pressing down on the land can affect the Earth’s rotation, along with other factors such as gravity. If this ice were to melt, the land underneath would rise, causing a shift in the Earth’s axis of approximately 0.33 miles. This shift would have an impact on the planet.

 According to a report, shifting Earth’s axis can affect sea levels in different locations, including Antarctica.

 Sea levels in the Northern Hemisphere are expected to rise due to various factors. If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to completely melt, it would cause even higher sea levels than previously thought. This would result in the East Coast of North America experiencing a rise of nearly 21 feet, which is over four feet higher than previous estimates. Furthermore, the West Coast and Miami, Florida, would experience a rise of approximately one foot higher than previously predicted levels. This impact would be felt across most of the region.

 “If this did happen, there would also be many other impacts that go far beyond sea level increase, including much higher rates of coastal erosion, greater damage from major storm events, problems with groundwater salinization, and other issues,“ Clark said. “And there could be correlated impacts on other glaciers and ice sheets in coastal areas that could tend to destabilize them as well.“

Storm events can cause loss of life, buildings destroyed, beach and dune erosion, and road and bridge damage along the coast.

 It’s still unclear, Clark said, when or if a breakup of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet might occur, or how fast it could happen. It may not happen for hundreds of years, he said, and even then it may not melt in its entirety. Research should continue to better understand the forces at work, he said.

 “However, these same effects apply to any amount of melting that may occur from West Antarctica,“ Clark said. “So many coastal areas need to plan for greater sea level rise than they may have expected.“

Between 1901 and 2018, the average global sea level rose by 15–25 cm, or an average of 1–2 mm per year.

 A significant part of the concern is that much of the base of this huge ice mass actually sits below sea level, forced down to the bedrock by the sheer weight of the ice above it. Its edges flow out into floating ice shelves, including the huge Ross Ice Shelf and Ronne Ice Shelf. This topography makes it inherently unstable, Clark said.

A significant part of the concern is that much of the base of this huge ice mass actually sits below sea level, forced down to the bedrock by the sheer weight of the ice above it.

 According to the researchers, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which includes large marine-based sectors, is at risk of collapsing due to global warming.

Sea Level Rise Maps and GIS Data offer digital images and videos depicting the impact of up to six-meter sea level increases worldwide.

 A digital image of what Antarctica would look like if it consisted only of land actually above sea level is also available at land above sea level‘.

About the  OSU College of Science: As one of the largest academic units at OSU, the College of Science has 14 departments and programs, 13 pre-professional programs, and provides the basic science courses essential to the education of every OSU student. Its faculty are international leaders in scientific research.

Permeable Pavement

 In the past, the typical approach to dealing with stormwater on developed sites was to get rid of it as quickly as possible. However, a new movement called Low Impact Development (LID) recognizes the value of rainwater as a resource and views runoff as a problem. LID aims to promote environmentally responsible site development through engineering solutions. In Santa Cruz County, almost half of urban areas are covered by impervious surfaces such as roads, driveways, and buildings, which significantly contribute to stormwater runoff. Therefore, it’s crucial to manage this runoff to protect public safety, property, and the environment. Street drains transport the runoff to streams that eventually flow into the ocean. During peak flows, surface water impoundments like the one at 38th Avenue and Brommer in Live Oak may be necessary to prevent flooding. However, newer permeable solutions are gaining popularity as a way to decrease runoff and encourage responsible site development.

 Newer Permeable Materials 

The construction industry is making an effort to be more environmentally friendly by using materials that reduce runoff. For example, paving blocks and open-celled grids are now being used, as they allow water to seep through. Even traditional materials like concrete and asphalt are being reformulated to make them more permeable. Furthermore, design elements such as bio-swales, rain catchment systems, and living roofs are being integrated to further decrease runoff. Permeable concrete is produced by decreasing the amount of fine-grained materials in the mixture, resulting in a more porous structure. Similarly, asphalt can be made more permeable by incorporating certain types of coal. Paving blocks are installed with gaps between them to allow water to seep through, while open grid cells can be filled with porous materials such as gravel or plants.

 Issues and Benefits

The environment is negatively impacted by storm-water runoff, which can result in reduced water quality in local streams and oceans, increased flooding and erosion, and diminished groundwater recharge. Studies have revealed that utilizing permeable surfaces can significantly decrease runoff and pollutants that enter local water bodies. There are even efforts to create natural substances that can be applied to permeable surfaces to break down and neutralize certain contaminants. Permeable surfaces can also help mitigate erosion, with some studies showing a 90% reduction in runoff at sites that use permeable pavers. Allowing stormwater to infiltrate onsite can help recharge our depleted groundwater aquifers. Additionally, permeable surfaces can improve safety by reducing the amount of standing or pooling water, which helps to decrease mosquito breeding. Oregon and Georgia have made it mandatory for state highways to be constructed with porous asphalts to improve vehicle traction and decrease runoff pollution.

Tom Ralston, the owner of Tom Ralston Concrete, has noticed many requests for permeable driveways and patios. He explains that these materials can help comply with building regulations that limit the amount of impervious surfaces on a lot. Permeable concrete is priced similarly to regular concrete, at around $10 to $12 per square foot, while pavers can cost anywhere from $13 to $22 per square foot. Public sector organizations and non-profit groups are starting to recognize the many benefits of permeable hardscaping. These benefits include improved aquifer recharge, healthier streams and oceans for fish and other environmental organizations, and lower capital costs for engineering stormwater management systems. Homeowners and business owners should think about using permeable materials when installing or replacing driveways, walkways, and patios. Pavers and open-grid cells are particularly popular options for both residential and commercial properties.

Here’s a helpful tip for DIY enthusiasts – you can turn broken concrete into attractive pavers for your walkways! To make your outdoor area more environmentally friendly, consider using permeable materials such as pebbles or ground cover. Crushed granitic rock is another excellent option for permeable walkways. If you want to learn more about Low Impact Development (LID), take a look at the “Home Drainage Guide” by the Resource Conservation District. If you live in the Soquel Creek Water District, Ron Duncan, who manages the district, can offer you a complimentary water survey for your home or business. You can contact him by calling 475–8500 or emailing him at

Encourage Biodiversity

In urban areas, rivers often face pollution and degradation due to intense engineering, leading to unsuitable habitats for plants and animals. To enhance biodiversity in these regions, adjustments can be made to river walls, which have demonstrated effectiveness. The EU Water Framework Directive mandates good ecological conditions in surface waters by 2015, emphasizing the need to promote biodiversity in rivers and waterways. While naturalistic features like meanders are not always feasible in high-density urban areas, river walls can be the most stable and easily accessible habitat for plants and invertebrates. The current status of river wall ecosystems, which consist of a combination of land and river species, is not well-established. Studies suggest that the greater the complexity of the wall surface, the greater the diversity and abundance of species it can sustain. The research primarily focused on the River Thames in the UK, which has become one of the cleanest urban waterways in Europe after 50 years of recovery. However, the ecologically-enhanced areas at the upstream and downstream ends are separated by a heavily-engineered section that runs through central London.

.I have discovered that the walls and shoreline along a heavily engineered section of a river, spanning 2km, have a diversity of species. Interestingly, the walls have more species compared to the mud banks. However, uniform and non-complex surfaces such as concrete walls and sheet piling support fewer or no species. The most biodiverse habitats were found on weathered brick or boulder walls. These surfaces, with rough and complex features that trap water and organic material, support more species. Researchers found that, even though river walls that serve an urban purpose are frequently maintained and replaced, the species living in these habitats had adapted to disturbance. None were rare or endangered. In areas where habitats are limited, these communities can provide valuable ecological connectivity and build more habitat complexity and biodiversity. Adding ledges and timber frames to bare walls was seen to encourage plant growth. The authors suggest conducting similar trial installations of organic material and sediments on walls in urban river sections to assess habitat development and exploitation.

If successful, ecologists and engineers could then collaborate to design materials and structures that are effective and visually–pleasing ecological habitats. The goodwill of engineers, landowners, and river managers is needed for the success of such trial developments. River managers may be unwilling to modify walls, to avoid causing damage or instability and maintain engineering access. Significant structures may also impede river traffic or flow. However, if well designed, modifications can be expected to counter these problems and form a valuable part of wider urban regeneration schemes.


Failure of Mitigation

Mitigation is an active attempt to replace a natural resource that is about to be lost, like a stream, wetland, buffer, nutrient, or carbon. This is typically achieved using either a geographic or tonnage metric. For example, if an acre of wetlands is going to be filled, two or more acres of wetlands will be created to make up for the loss. However, despite its noble intentions, many mitigation sites have been unsuccessful in the past. These projects are usually measured using empirical data and benchmarks that differ depending on the resource being replaced. Wetlands, for instance, are usually measured against achieving a certain hydrologic frequency and duration standard (such as 5% for the growing season) as well as specific planting survivability. So, if a two-acre mature forested wetland is destroyed, a newly constructed wetland that covers four acres will serve as the mitigation.

To successfully restore the wetland, it must be flooded for 10 days and planted with 320 bare-root seedlings per acre. After 5 years, the site should have a minimum of 270 stems per acre and be flooded for an average of 10 consecutive days annually. However, even if these goals are met, it is important to consider the loss of the mature ecosystem and the original hydrology of the site. The assumption that wetlands must be flooded for 5% of the growing season may not be accurate without actual measurements. Additionally, the functions that the mature system provides must be taken into account.

When it comes to mitigating the loss of natural resources like wetlands, there are some basic principles that we follow. However, an actual assessment of the functional loss is often not conducted. And even if it is, it’s difficult to replace those functions in a new mitigation site, especially if we don’t know what we’re trying to replace. Simply constructing a site that holds water is not enough to ensure success. Mitigation is an active effort to replace a soon-to-be-lost natural resource, such as a stream, wetland, buffer, nutrient, or carbon. This is done using either a geographic or tonnage metric. For example, if an acre of wetland is going to be filled, two or more acres of wetland will be constructed to mitigate the loss. However, many mitigation sites have failed in the past. To measure success, we typically use empirical data. For wetlands, we measure against achieving a certain hydrologic frequency and duration standard and specific planting survivability. Each natural system we mitigate provides a number of functions, so it’s important to identify what functions we’re trying to replace or restore. This requires us to establish clear goals based on an understanding of what was lost. For example, a vernal pool mitigation project in Virginia was successful because the specific goal was to have a certain species colonize the site, which we saw happen. Development in and around natural systems is inevitable, so we must strive for success by setting clear, specific, and measurable goals. Using broad concepts as benchmarks will only lead to ambiguous results and failures. The key to success is specificity, just like in life.

Oil Spill

Oil is a significant hazardous material. The Federal EPA guidelines state that oil in water in excess of 10 parts per million (ppm) is hazardous. To put this in perspective 1 ppm is about 30 seconds out of a year. It does not take much oil to create a hazardous situation. What we are currently looking at is a massive amount of fuel oil in an almost a 100% concentration.

 How this spill is being handled is a bit mind blowing. First, it is required by Federal law that the oil company (BP) prepare and submit a spill containment and control plan before even contemplating a drilling project. This would include all contingencies including a massive failure such as what happened with the Deepwater Horizon rig. The counter measures would be put into action immediately and then clean&up could begin. Obviously, this did not happen.

 The oil was allowed to continue to pump into the Gulf. It seems the BPs only strategy was to come up with a way to continue harvesting the oil. The first attempt would have sealed the leak so that they could keep pumping more oil out. When this failed, they tried to insert a straw into the broken pipe so that they could transfer it to a ship. That did not work either. Now we are finally looking to plug the pipe. This should have been done on day one.

Insight: Inside BP’s plan to reset renewables as oil and gas boom

 Using the principle of the solution to pollution is dilution, BP decided that a dispersant should be applied. The idea was to disperse the oil so that it would result in a safe level of pollution (i.e. <10 ppm). The problem with this idea is that the dispersant is even more toxic than the oil. The EPA guidelines for the dispersant, state that levels in excess of 2 ppm are hazardous. To add insult to injury is the fact that a dispersant disperses the oil. The last thing we want to do is disperse the oil. Now the darn stuff is so well dispersed that we in North Carolina are looking to see if it shows up on our beaches.

 I have no political agenda in writing this. However it seems that there is a failure in leadership on many levels. The agency responsible for the protection of our water (EPA) seems to not have a say in what is going on. BP has demonstrated that it has its own agenda. Spend as little money as possible and keep the flow of oil coming.

LONDON, March 7 (Reuters) – BP hasn’t fallen out of love with renewables. It just wants to have more power.

 The implications to the wildlife and coastal ecosystems are horrific. The scientific community has no benchmark to compare this too. The parallels to the Exxon oil spill in Alaska are obvious. However, the rocky coastline of Alaska is very different from the wetlands of the Gulf coast. You can steam clean a rock. How do you clean a marsh?

CEO Bernard Looney’s pursuit of green energy outstripped all rivals three years ago when he outlined a radical blueprint to move away from fossil fuels

 Of course, BP did have a solution. Lets burn the marshes to the ground. It’s a quick fix. Thankfully, this seems to have been taken off the table for now.

The oil major isn’t backing away from renewables though, its green chief Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath stresses, it’s simply changing the terms of the relationship.

 We are now being told that the oil will have to naturally work its way through the ecosystem. That is a complete fallacy. Oil does not naturally exist in the ecosystems of the Gulf Coast. What it will do is kill whatever it comes in contact with. If you want an example of this go visit the oil laden coastal marshes of New Jersey. Many of the marshes along the eastern rivers are devoid of life due to petroleum contamination. We are still waiting for the oil to clean itself up. It’s not happening. The stuff even kills the microbes.

Dotzenrath told Reuters BP was reviewing its solar and onshore wind businesses as part of a revamp that will see it move away from selling the clean electricity it produces, and instead keep hold of most of it to supply its growing electric vehicle charging network and production of low-carbon fuels.

 So how do you clean a marsh? First, keep as much of the oil out as possible. This is done by not dispersing, but rather concentrating the slick using booms and other physical barriers and then harvest the oil. There are a number of new textile technologies that could be put into play. Second, put people on the shoreline to manually harvest the oil that gets past the barriers. Oil does float and it can be scooped up. This will require many people, but last time I checked there are bunches of folks looking for work.

 If the oil does get into the marsh this presents huge problems. But, not insurmountable ones, just expensive. I have been doing marsh restoration projects for nearly 25 years. I have pulled PCB™s out of marshes as well as all kinds of fun heavy metals and organics. We know how to do this. It is not quick, but it is effective. Quite frankly, unemployment in the wetlands business should be a thing of the past.

“We made some changes internally and created a focused hydrogen organisation, a focused offshore wind organisation,” Dotzenrath said in an interview. “I’m (now) just reviewing the onshore renewables part – so the onshore wind and solar part.

 The scientific and engineering community have a lot to offer in solving this problem. What we need now is leadership to take charge of the cleanup and restoration effort. There is a cost for further delays. We need to address the fact that this thing is not a quick fix and that it needs to be fixed. At this point it is not clear that this is even agreed upon. The focus has been on the pipe cam and not what the oil is doing to the ecosystem. BP plug the darn pipe and let us see those clean-up contracts get people back to work.

Dotzenrath also put the first numbers to BP’s rebalancing act, which comes amid deteriorating profits in renewables power generation, telling Reuters that the company aimed to retain 80% of the power produced to supply the global EV network and to make “green” fuels such as hydrogen, seen by many transition experts as a key fuel of the future.

 See more of Mr.Seelinger’s efforts to help solve the problem(s) of the Gulf Oil Spill.