Ten years after Sandy, Atlantic City still suffering floods

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Atlantic City, where flooding is still a near-daily part of life a decade post-Sandy.

A decade after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the US east coast, the seaside town Atlantic City has fortified its famous boardwalk that narrowly divides casinos and the ocean.

But in certain neighborhoods, flooded streets have become routine.

North of the city dubbed the Vegas of the East Coast, a new stretch of boardwalk is protected from crashing waves by a rock barrier and a seawall, a $60 million project completed in 2018.

Further inland stands a wasteland of sorts, where a few buildings still tower, survivors of the deadly storm’s devastation.

Jim Rutala, a private planning consultant for the city, said the tens of millions in investment in the shoreline have “provided tremendous protection” and could accommodate new construction.

Founded in the 19th century as a spa resort, Atlantic City feted its golden age during the Prohibition era in the 1920s, a haven for revelers and the high-rolling mob before it later became a tourist destination thanks to its nightclubs and casinos.

‘Economic generator’

The city immortalized in song by Bruce Springsteen has always benefited from its spot on the sea, but the threat of rising waters has made the area increasingly vulnerable.

On October 29, 2012, Sandy—which left more than 100 people in the United States dead—caused serious damage to nine percent of homes in Atlantic City, according to the state of New Jersey.

A plaque marking the height of the water when Sandy struck Atlantic City in 2012, seen at the Vagabond Kitchen and Tap House.

The city of some 40,000 people is “a tremendous economic generator,” said Rutala, where 35 percent of residents live in poverty.

Further south, where hotels, casinos and restaurants populate the seaside, some of the shoreline was able to weather Sandy thanks to beaches and artificial dunes that the Army Corps of Engineers had constructed, with millions of cubic meters of sand washed offshore.

Without them “water would be lapping up against the boardwalk,” said Kimberly McKenna, the associate director of the Stockton University Coastal Research Center.

But “at some point, we’re either gonna run out of sand, or it’ll be too expensive to keep up,” said the geologist.

High-tide flooding

Heading a little deeper toward the back of the bay shows just how quickly the water that’s made Atlantic City a tourist hotspot can become a handicap.

An aerial view of the neighborhood Chelsea Heights in Atlantic City.

“Every time it rains, any rain other than a light rain will cause a flood on this street,” said lifelong resident Thomas Gitto.

The 62-year-old retiree worked for decades in the casinos, and has always lived on the same street of modest homes.

“We even have a joke—it says that if it just gets cloudy, it will flood. And it’s true. Because anytime we have like a full moon, or some kind of storm coming, the water comes up through the sewer, and the street will flood all the way up to the porch and sometimes it even comes inside the house,” Gitto told AFP.

The high-tide floods are likely to become increasingly common as sea levels rise due to .

Atlantic City should expect to experience such inundations between 17 and 75 days per year by 2030, compared to less than once a year in 1950, according to a 2019 study by Rutgers University.

Freddie Restrepo in front of his Atlantic City home that was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy a decade ago.

In the Chelsea Heights neighborhood, Freddie Restrepo and his sister Paula, immigrants from Colombia, lost both of their side-by-side homes to Sandy.

After 10 years and a number of mishaps, they have only been able to rebuild the walls and foundations that are now raised, similar to a number of properties in the area.

Today, according to Restrepo, the street frequently floods.

Streets frequently flood in Atlantic City’s Chelsea Heights neighborhood, shown here.

‘A lot worse’

Nearby at his tavern Vagabond Kitchen and Tap House, co-owner Elvis Cadavid says “things have just gotten a lot worse.”

“We’re well aware of when the flooding is going to happen,” he said. “So we deal with it, we postpone openings, we sometimes close early. If it’s really bad, we might close for the day, we might lose a day.”

Rutala said the , cognizant of its weak spots, started renovating its drainage system and has constructed several bulkheads bordering the interior bay.

Streets frequently flood in Atlantic City’s Chelsea Heights neighborhood, shown here.

[PIC=1048718:left]

Since Sandy, more than 300 homeowners in Atlantic City—and more than 7,000 in New Jersey—have received aid on average of more than $120,000 to rebuild, according to state figures.

But according to Rutala, at least 200 homes are still classified as regular flood victims.

© 2022 AFP

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Ten years after Sandy, Atlantic City still suffering floods (2022, October 29)
retrieved 31 October 2022
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Radioactive traces in tree rings reveal Earth’s history of unexplained ‘radiation storms’

Hexbyte Glen Cove

In searching for planets and studying their stars, I’ve had the privilege to use some of the world’s great telescopes. However, our team has recently turned to an even larger system to study the cosmos: Earth’s forests.

We analyzed radioactive signatures left in around the world to study mysterious “radiation storms” that have swept over Earth half a dozen times in the past 10,000 years or so.

Our results, published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society A, rule out “solar superflares” as the culprit—but the true cause remains unknown.

A history written in tree rings

When high-energy radiation strikes the it turns into radioactive carbon-14, or radiocarbon. The radiocarbon then filters through the air and the oceans, into sediments and bogs, into you and me, into animals and plants—including hardwoods with their yearly tree rings.

To archaeologists, radiocarbon is a godsend. After it is created, carbon-14 slowly and steadily decays back into nitrogen—which means it can be used as a clock to measure the age of organic samples, in what is called radiocarbon dating.

To astronomers, this is equally valuable. Tree rings give a year-by-year record of high-energy particles called “cosmic rays” going back millennia.

The magnetic fields of Earth and the sun shield us from cosmic rays shooting through the Galaxy. More cosmic rays reach Earth when these magnetic fields are weaker, and fewer when the fields are stronger.

This means the rise and fall of carbon-14 levels in tree rings encodes a history of the 11-year cycle of the solar dynamo (which creates the sun’s magnetic field) and the reversals of Earth’s magnetic field.

Miyake events

But tree rings also record events we cannot presently explain. In 2012, Japanese physicist Fusa Miyake discovered a spike in the radiocarbon content of tree rings from 774 AD. It was so big that several ordinary years’ worth of must have arrived all at once.

As more teams have joined the search, tree ring evidence has been uncovered of further “Miyake events”: from 993 AD and 663 BC, and prehistoric events in 5259 BC, 5410 BC, and 7176 BC.

These have already led to a revolution in archaeology. Finding one of these short, sharp spikes in an ancient sample pins its date down to a single year, instead of the decades or centuries of uncertainty from ordinary radiocarbon dating.

Among other things, our colleagues have used the 993 AD event to reveal the exact year of the first European settlement in the Americas, the Viking village at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland: 1021 AD.

Could huge radiation pulses happen again?

In physics and astronomy, these Miyake events remain a mystery.

How do you get such a huge pulse of radiation? A flurry of papers have blamed supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, explosions from magnetized neutron stars, and even comets.

However, the most widely accepted explanation is that Miyake events are “solar superflares.” These hypothetical eruptions from the sun would be perhaps 50–100 times more energetic than the biggest recorded in the modern era, the Carrington Event of 1859.

If an event like this occurred today, it would devastate power grids, telecommunications and satellites. If these occur randomly, around once every thousand years, that is a 1% chance per decade—a serious risk.

Noisy data

Our team at UQ set out to sift through all the available tree ring data and pull out the intensity, timing, and duration of Miyake events.

To do this we had to develop software to solve a system of equations that model how radiocarbon filters through the entire global carbon cycle, to work out what fraction ends up in trees in what years, as opposed to the oceans, bogs, or you and me.

Working with archaeologists, we have just released the first reproducible, systematic study of all 98 trees of published data on Miyake events. We have also released open source modeling software as a platform for future work.

Storms of solar flares

Our results confirm each event delivers between one and four ordinary years’ worth of radiation in one go. Earlier research suggested trees closer to Earth’s poles recorded a bigger spike—which is what we would expect if solar superflares are responsible—but our work, looking at a larger sample of trees, shows this is not the case.

We also found these events can arrive at any point in the sun’s 11-year activity cycle. Solar flares, on the other hand, tend to happen around the peak of the cycle.

Most puzzling, a couple of the spikes seem to take longer than can be explained by the slow creep of new radiocarbon through the carbon cycle. This suggests that either the events can sometimes take longer than a year, which is not expected for a giant solar flare, or the growing seasons of the trees are not as even as previously thought.

For my money, the sun is still the most likely culprit for Miyake events. However, our results suggest we’re seeing something more like a storm of rather than one huge superflare.

To pin down what exactly happens in these events, we will need more data to give us a better picture of the events we already know about. To obtain this data, we will need more tree rings—and also other sources such as ice cores from the Arctic and Antarctic.

This is truly interdisciplinary science. Normally I think about beautifully clean, precise telescopes: it is much harder to understand the complex, interconnected Earth.



More information:
Qingyuan Zhang et al, Modelling cosmic radiation events in the tree-ring radiocarbon record, Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1098/rspa.2022.0497

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Citation:
Radioactive traces in tree rings reveal Earth’s history of unexplained ‘radiation storms’ (2022, October 29)
retrieved 30 October 2022
from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-radioactive-tree-reveal-earth-history.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

% %item_read_more_button%% Hexbyte Glen Cove Educational Blog Repost With Backlinks — #metaverse #vr #ar #wordpress