Scientists employ civilian drones to document coastal erosion

In California, The Nature Conservancy is asking personal drone owners to capture images of the effect of this year's El Nino on California coastlines to help envision the impacts of future sea level rise due to climate change.
By James Carlin | Feb 11, 2016
When humans began to disperse across our planet's continents, they traveled by boat, landing them on foreign coastlines around the world. Settlements and cities were established on these coastlines, and even today 40% of our planet's population lives within 60 miles of the coast. Unfortunately, these coastlines are at risk of disappearing due to sea level rise. As we burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, it creates carbon dioxide that creates a blanket in our planet's atmosphere, trapping in the Earth's heat. Our oceans are absorbing much of that heat, causing water molecules to expand and sea levels to rise. Scientists predict that global sea level will rise 4.6 feet by the year 2100, and in California, they are already seeing the impacts.

According to a study conducted by The Pacific Institute in 2009, a sea level rise of 4.6 feet would endanger half a million Californians, and $100 billion dollars worth of infrastructure and property. According toNBC News, starting this month The Nature Conservancy is asking personal drone owners to capture images of California's coastal erosion not due to global sea level rise, but due to an unusually strong El Nino season. While the El Nino effects areseasonal weather events from year to year and may even repair themselves, sea level rise is a long term shift in climate. This year's unusually strong El Nino effect could give us a glimpse of how our coastlines will be permanently altered by 2100.

The Nature Conservancy plans to compile these geotagged images of flooded beaches and eroded shores toraise awareness of the projected impacts of sea level rise, and to try to help the public and officials work together to minimizethe effects of climate change, and reduce our consumption of fossil fuels to keep our coastlines safe for future generations.

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