Printer Friendly

Climate change in the Carolinas.

When Carolyn Hess moved just south of Hertford, North Carolina 16 years ago, cypress stumps near the mouth of the Yeopim River hinted at a vanished island that a decade earlier had been substantial enough to provide shelter for a local recluse. Hess, cofounder of the Albemarle Environmental Association, admits that she can't prove that the now totally submerged island was a casualty of climate change. But she offers the story in support of Sam Pearsall's hypothesis about what's happening to the swampy chunk of land between Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

A landscape ecologist, Pearsall heads a pioneering Nature Conservancy endeavor designed to help ecosystems native to 500,000 acres in northeastern North Carolina withstand the ravages of global warming. He believes sea level locally is rising about two inches every 10 years, and, at that rate, "a significant portion of the peninsula will be underwater in 100 years." He also predicts that rate to double in the next century.

Refuge Biologist Dennis Stewart agrees. He says a pine forest that existed on the Alligator River 20 years ago is now a treeless sawgrass marsh.

Global warming's effects may be more profound on this lobster claw of land than in other places, scientists say, due to low elevation and the nature of the peat-rich soils holding the land together. Peat decomposes at 10 times its usual rate when exposed to saltwater, Pearsall says.

Pearsall's project eventually aims to keep peat sequestered under the soil by planting the coast with thousands of salt-tolerant bald cypress trees. "My working hypothesis is that the submerged trees will live for 200 to 300 years," says Pearsall. "Sediments will gather around the roots, securing the marsh." CONTACT: Albemarle Environmental Association, (252) 336-4778,
COPYRIGHT 2003 Earth Action Network, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Capone, Lisa
Date:Jul 1, 2003
Previous Article:Esprit de Tompkins.
Next Article:Be safe? Lois Gibbs' new campaign urges caution on toxic chemicals. (Currents).

Related Articles
Cruising for Climate Change.
Climate heat.
Dismal economics of apartments in the hurricane zone: even a relatively mild 2006 hurricane season can't help to shake the stubborn reality that...
Of penguins' range and climate change.
World's warmest winter.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters