JACKSONVILLE, Fla – The Atlantic is rising faster around Jacksonville and the rate and frequency has accelerated locally.
A public forum Tuesday at Jacksonville University discussed how decades of collected weather data has improved the understanding of hurricanes while revealing how quickly the ocean is rising up around the Jacksonville area.
“Data records show both the oceans and atmosphere are warming. Future environmental changes are less certain but can be predicted more accurately if forecast models include better observations.” according to WJXT Meteorologist Mark Collins who spoke to a group of informed citizens in the Gooding Auditorium.
“Of the top 10 highest storm tide events in Mayport eight have occurred in the last two decades.”
Collins, along with JU Associate Professor of Marine Science, Dr. Jeremy Stalker, and Dr. Catherine Edwards from the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, were all panelists invited by an organization that collects a broad range of weather information that anyone can access called SECOORA.
The site provides critical information for surfers, boaters or professional maritime pilots and even includes data from underwater torpedo shaped automated glider vehicles.
Dr. Edwards spoke about how she tracked hurricane Florence’s path with the remote-controlled robot which improved the forecast by measuring the depth of warm water and salinity.
All this information shows a big alarming picture- preliminary data indicates global sea surface temperatures may be the hottest on average for 2018.
Warm water causes the oceans to expand and slows the conveyor belt of ocean currents that helps regulate our planet’s heat balance.
Gauges show a big sea level increase is occurring along the east coast south of Cape Hatteras. Locally the rate of sea level expansion has accelerated since 2011 averaging over three quarters of an inch (0.78) per year and outpaces the global average rise of 3 to 3.5 mm per year.
Local warming is already causing regional changes evident by reduced oyster productivity and outbreaks of flesh eating vibrio bacteria in the water according to Dr. Stalker. Even citrus crops and mangroves have shifted farther north in the milder climate.
As ice caps and glaciers melt, the gulf stream slows down allowing more heat to accumulate around the equator.
This slows the sinking of cold water at the poles allowing more heat to be stored in the oceans deep depths which contributes to more intense hurricanes.