This article discusses how residents of the Outer Banks in North Carolina will be forced to grapple with the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. Slowly but surely, North Carolina’s Outer Banks are being eaten up by the sea.
The 200-mile stretch of islands that sits just off the coast is known for its idyllic beaches and thriving tourism, but scientists say those beaches are in jeopardy. Rising sea levels are forcing residents to grapple with a home that’s slowly washing out from under them.
One 2010 report predicted that sea levels around North Carolina could rise 39 inches by 2100 as climate change melts glaciers and contributes to global sea level rise. Already, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality says, about six feet of coastal land erodes every year.
These rising seas are making already unstable strips of land more erosive. The Outer Banks are shifting sandbars that naturally drift toward the coast. Each time a storm makes landfall, seawater carves inlets and deposits sand, spreading it across one side of the island while it erodes from the other like a slowly turning wheel.