Millions of US beach residents better put taller foundations on their houses no matter whether they see sunrises or sunsets beyond the surf. Two reports put sea level rise in the news. One addresses the US Atlantic coast, the other the Pacific. Both see long stretches of shoreline where the rise appears destined to exceed a global average that itself is sizeable. One of the extrapolative analyses is from a report published Friday directly by the National Research Council on request of West Coast state agencies. It reports not only that California's rise will be above par, but that the global forecast that the IPCC issued five years ago is short of the present scientific consensus on what the par is. For the right hand side is one - made public Sunday - from the US Geological Survey and that ran in Nature Climate Change.
This looks like an opportunity for reporters and editors to wrap them into a single, wide-stance story with separate sources built right in even if they choose to fall back upon press releases. And if an outlet calls on a third for fourth outside source then bingo: in today's world of rampant aggregation of others' work and of single-source-itis it will come out looking like an investigative media juggernaut. One does find a few instances of what ought to be routine, light digging for original and diverse perspectives on events. But not many.
The Associated Press ran separates, with Seth Borenstein writing the Atlantic Coast's prospects for coastal erosion and retreat (with, to be sure, a nod to the Pacific side), while Jeff Barnard writes the Pacific (and gets tagline credit in Borenstein's article). Both reporters sought information from sources beyond those in press releases.
Other Stories, by category of regional focus:
- SF Chronicle - David Perlman: Global sea-level rise could hit California hard ; At one point the story refers to a greater rise should an 8.0 quake strike - but the composition makes it appear to be referring to the region south of Cape Mendocino. The report's reference is to a quake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone to the north of Mendocino. Elsewhere in the story, the correct description is given. Quoted sources include two report authors and a state water manager.
- San Jose Mercury News - Paul Rogers: California faces more serious risk of sea level rise than other areas; Two authors quoted along with a state official and a representative of the activist Center for Biological Diversity (as per its press release).
- LATimes - Tony Barboza (L.A.Now blog): California to see higher than average sea level rise, report says;
- AFP - US experts predict higher sea level rise: Study ; Leads on the NRC's opinion that the IPCC undershot the most likely future, and notes the West Coast focus of the report as secondary news.
- Wall St. Journal - Cassandra Sweet: California Sea Levels Seen Rising, Causing Flooding ; Only quote is off press release.
- Reuters - Deborah Zabarenko: Rising sea levels to hit California hard by 2100 ;
- Christian Science Monitor - Pete Spotts: West Coast sea levels: New report estimates greater rise by 2100 ;
- Orange Country Register - Pat Brennan: California drowning? Sea up 3 feet by 2100;
East Coast: (as this report came out second, the opportunity for wrapping both into one story is greater. It made no difference however)
- Science News - Devin Powell: East Coast faces faster sea level rise ; All East Coast. Final passage is hard to figure - what is the source driving at regarding cold spots and the 1960s? Is that a metaphor? Or a sign that the source believes the myth (or, if you will, gross exaggeration) that in the 1960s a broad scientific consensus felt the Earth was in for a big cooling?
- Guardian (UK) Damian Carrington: Scientists warn US east coast over accelerated sea level rise ;
- Time Magazine - Tara Thean (Ecocentric blog) Surf's Up: Sea Levels Are Rising Faster on the U.S. East Coast ;
- AFP - US northeast sea level rises faster than average ;
- New Scientist - Michael Marshall: Sea-Level rise accelerates faster on US east coast ; This leaves out the West Coast study but is an inclusive story nonetheless. Included ref to earlier studies of similar conclusion, and quotes an author of one of them. Also gets well into the proposed mechanism, a slowing of the Gulf Stream or as Marshall puts it while sharing trade jargon, the AMOC (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation). This one also refers to a Potsdam study of global trends, see Grist and next story set down.
- ClimateWire - Lauren Morello via AccuWeather : East Coast Faces Faster Sea-Level Rise ; A polished job with a tacked-on ending that summarized the West Coast report too.
AND FINALLY - Hurray for a Wide-Angle News Lens:
- CBS News - Bailey Johnson: U.S. coasts double-teamed by rising sea levels ; Dunno if this even-handed report merely came out late, after Johnson or editors noticed the blinkered coverage of the two reports in other outlets, or were inspired from the get-go by the near synchronous release of the news. Either way, an example of true, sound-science balance.
Other Sea Level News:
- ANI (India-based service) : World likely to face significant sea-level rise in coming centuries ; Mainly, perhaps entirely, off a press release from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research ;
Grist for the Mill:
National Research Council Press Release on West Coast sea level ; USGS Press Release on the East Coast; Center for Biological Diversity Press Release ; Postsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Press Release ;
- Charlie Petit