SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — NBC’s Al Roker spoke with WSAV Storm Team 3 Meteorologist Kyle Dennis and Digital Reporter Ashley Williams about key climate change issues that will be addressed throughout this week in NBC’s “Climate in Crisis” series.
For his reports, Roker traveled to a remote part of Greenland to understand why glaciers are melting so rapidly, the role the oceans are playing and what this means for the rest of the world.
He also takes a look at how rising sea levels are affecting East Coast landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the launch pads of Cape Canaveral, Florida, and how rising sea levels can mean more flooding when dealing with bad storms.
Here’s what Roker shared with WSAV about his stories this week.
WSAV: We’ve seen a lot more instances of coastal flooding at high tide just on a normal day, and we’re going underwater with roads that are closing down. Is this becoming more normal, and is this related to sea level rise? How concerned do we need to be?
Al Roker: We’re seeing, throughout the southeast a lot of times, down to Miami, they’re seeing what they call “sunny-day flooding.” If the tide is right, the winds are correct, depending on the phase of the moon, places are all of a sudden underwater, and they have to make changes for it. It is related to sea level rise.
That’s why we went to Greenland, and we’ve gone to other Arctic areas where the warming is happening twice as fast as it is across the country. Along the East Coast, there are places that are both tourist destinations, regular homes and even military installations that are being threatened by this sea level rise. Even for folks who don’t live along the coast, they’re going to be feeling effects.
As climate is changing, we’re seeing more violent swings of weather, where we’re seeing heavier amounts of rainfall that overproduce, where we see tropical systems that come inland, and while they may not be designated tropical storms anymore, they’re dumping tropical storm-like amounts of rain.
So, everybody’s got to be concerned, but there along the coast? Boy, sea level rise is going to have a major impact.
WSAV: Tybee Island has been taking steps to make the island more resilient to sea level rise, but beyond merely adapting to sea level rise, is there a way to prevent sea level rise from rising further?
Al Roker: It’s going to take a concerted effort on a local, state, national and international level. We can do all we can do all we can about, say, helping to augment barrier islands by putting in a wetlands. But you can only go so far on a local level, it takes a concerted effort from a local level all the way up to an international level.
If we make those changes now, we can at least mitigate the amount of sea level rise. But if we don’t do anything, it’s going to happen, and evidence is showing that it’s probably going to happen faster than we originally thought. So, learning to adapt and live with is probably part of our future, but depending on how fast that happens, and how fast those changes are made and those modifications are made, it may be too late.
WSAV: When you went up to Greenland, was there anything you were surprised to see, or weren’t expecting to see?
Al Roker: We were out there with these scientists who are with NYU, and at the Helmheim Glacier, they measured this very warm pool of tropical water from almost the surface to way down deep. What that suggests to them, and it’s going to take them a while to analyze, is that this glacial melt may be happening twice as fast as originally thought.
If that is the case, we’re going to see an increase in sea level rise faster than we thought. So, that’s really concerning.
To coincide with NBC’s coverage, which runs through Sept. 20, Williams will be taking a look at Our Changing Climate, to examine the impacts of climate change being felt across the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry.
Read more at wsav.com/ourchangingclimate.