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Science & Technology
Mon July 28, 2014
National Geographic Report, 'Rising Seas: Will The Outer Banks Survive?'
A new report from NationalGeographic.com begins this way: "Development and climate change are causing the islands to slowly vanish, scientists say."
The tourists flocking to North Carolina's Outer Banks right now know that the joys of summer there—the gorgeous beaches, the wild horses, the views of the lighthouse at Cape Hatteras—come to an end as the season fades.
But they may not know that the place itself is disappearing from the map.
Under the combined effects of storms, development, and sea-level rise, portions of this narrow, 200-mile island chain are collapsing, says Stanley Riggs, a coastal geologist at East Carolina University in Greenville.
"We're losing them right now," he says. "In the next ten years, it's going to be awful."
The report cites Michael Orbach, professor emeritus of marine policy at Duke University's marine lab in Beaufort, North Carolina.
"All these effects that people have been talking about for years are now actually starting to be seen," Orbach says. "And they realize that we don't know what to do about it."
The multimedia story also delves into the topic of the controversial report "warning that North Carolina could face 39 inches (1 meter) of sea-level rise by 2100, as glaciers melt and ocean waters warm and expand."