Welcome to the Flood Zone! A resource for those interested in flood zone issues, land surveying, real estate, history, educational opportunities, and

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A resource for those interested in flood zone issues, land surveying, real estate, history, educational opportunities, and local events.

This month's newsletter focuses primarily on flood zone issues due to Sandy, the intense storm that just missed us here in Portland, ME, but has impacted many others, including friends and family. With changing climates and weather patterns, it is unreasonable to continue to have the thought, "it will never happen to us". I believe wholeheartedly that more violent tropical storms will visit Maine in the future. It is prudent that we prepare properly by determining risk and encouraging appropriate protective measures through permitting, design, and planning.

~ Jim

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Jim Headshot

Message from Jim

Within fourteen months, two very large storms, Irene and Sandy, have entered New England with powerful force, causing both casualties and billions of dollars of damage. Last month, a 4.0 magnitude intraplate earthquake with its epicenter in Hollis, Maine was recorded. In a book written by Bill McGuire, Waking the Giant: How a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Volcanoes, global warming continues to elevate concern worldwide. Locate Georges Bank on any map and realize sea level rise is a real event. Just 20,000 years ago, ice glaciers as much as 5,000 feet thick existed in New England. Terms such as glacial scrapes, frost wedging, and moraine give a clear indication that water, frozen or not, is a major factor of land formation.

As a land surveyor attempting to diversify product offered, I obtained my Certified Floodplain Manager designation. By definition, a CFM helps reduce the nation's flood losses and protect and enhance the natural resources and functions of its floodplains by improving the knowledge and abilities of floodplain managers in the United States (ASFPM 2012). What has occurred while raising the bar of personal competence is a much higher level of awareness about what sea level rise poses on humanity. The Town of Scarborough held a workshop recently to discuss adding one or two feet to the 1-foot freeboard already required by the State of Maine. Developers, builders, architects, engineers, insurance and real estate agents, lenders, and homeowners should all take a keen interest in respecting the changing global climate.

Storm surge, storm track, intensity, forward speed, size, tide height, and slope of the sea floor are a few factors which define storm intensity. Every storm, regardless of its size, causes erosion, but can also create flood damage, increase freshwater salinity, damage ecosystems, and cause injury or loss of life. Coastal erosion has been increasing dramatically over the last two decades and is expected to continue as sea levels rise, and storm frequency and severity increase. Scientific models predict that shoreline erosion may outpace sea level rise by 50 to 200 fold (Baker 2008). This explains how sand dunes can be washed away that are much taller than the actual sea level rise over the same period of time. A report published in "Nature Climate Change" from June 2012, projects that on our current emissions path, the sea level will rise 40 inches by the year 2100 and 7 inches per decade thereafter. At that rate, sea level would hit the Hurricane Sandy proportions of 9 feet rise around the year 2200; a five foot rise will occur in just over a century. The same paper also notes that even if global warming is held to 2 degrees Celsius, there's still a 50 percent probability that the sea level will reach 9 feet rise by the year 2300. The actions we take as we approach the reality of these predictions will impact the world on an unfathomable level. Take a look at the image below from the National Hurricane Center webpage on NOAA's site. (You can also click on the image to learn more about storm surge from NOAA.)

stormsurgevsstormtide sm

Storm surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tides. Storm surge should not be confused with storm tide, which is defined as the water level rise due to the combination of storm surge and the astronomical tide. This rise in water level can cause extreme flooding in coastal areas particularly when storm surge coincides with normal high tide, resulting in storm tides reaching up to 20 feet or more in some cases.

Now I realize that some do not think these numbers are practical and we should prepare based on historical numbers, and not by scientific method created by accelerated rates of increase, but either way, take lots of pictures of our valuable coastlines for the photo album. They will look much different every passing decade.

~ Jim

Baker, et al. Estuarine, Coastal, and Shelf Science, 80, 435-471, (2008).

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Flood not so Funny

Rising sea level is no joke for most of us above the water, and though some aquatic wildlife may benefit, many others will not. Think about the unique ecosystems, such as estuaries and tidal wetlands, where a rich diversity of wildlife depend on the fragile balance between land and water. Sedimentation and salt levels, as well as vegetation and other land features, will be altered. One of the primary aquatic systems to be affected by rising temperatures are the coral reefs, another biodiversity hotspot. Smaller organisms like krill, a major component of the food chain for many animals such as penguins, seals, and some whales, will also be negatively affected. To round back to a more
"people-centered" perspective, think about how these kinds of changes would affect coastal economies and fishing industries. There is too much at stake for this not to be of huge concern.

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Announcements

IAAO Speaking Engagement!

Jim will be presenting at the Maine Chapter of the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) annual meeting on November 16th. Topics will include the differences between mortgage loan inspections and boundary surveys, common misconceptions, and raising standards within the industry. We are excited about networking with so many assessors from all over Maine!
November 16th, 2012, 10:00 - 11:30 AM, at Events on Broadway in South Portland

Mark presenting Cemetery

Thank you!

We would like to thank the Maine Cemetery Association for inviting us to present at their annual meeting about our involvement with the Headstone Rehabilitation Project at the Augusta Veterans' Cemetery. It is a pleasure and an honor to be involved!

We would also like to thank the Maine Municipal Association for the invitation to present during their October 2012 Annual Conference. We would enjoy returning!

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In the News

Rising Sea Levels an Issue for Saco Bay

Michael Kelley, Staff Writer for the Scarborough Leader, Sept. 14, 2012
"Scarborough has changed a lot in the last 100 years, but town officials are urging residents not to reminisce about the past, but rather prepare for the future, especially those with waterfront homes."
Read more!

Sea-Level Bill Becomes Law

North Carolina Governor, Bev Perdue, let the controversial sea-level legislation become law without her signature. The bill, HB819, allows for the rules and policies for coastal development, in terms of the impact of sea level rise, to be based on steady, linear historic trends rather than scientific study -- a study that would take into consideration different events that may accelerate the rate of sea level rise. What do you think? Follow the progression of that story using the links below.

North Carolina Lawmakers Reject Sea Level Rise Predictions
Wade Rawlins, Reuters.com, July 3, 2012
Update: Revised North Carolina Sea Level Rise Bill Goes to Governor
Jane J. Lee, Science Insider, July 3, 2012
Perdue Lets Sea-Level Bill Become Law
Craig Jarvis, NewsObserver.com, August 2, 2012

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