Rising sea levels a threat to lighthouses everywhere

Climate change–with the rising sea levels and frequency of extreme weather events that accompany it–is the elephant in the room when it comes to lighthouse preservation. Many of our coastal lighthouses, particular those on sandy beaches and bluffs, are threatened by erosion. Several have been moved in recent years to rescue them from extinction, and others have been saved by the implementation of expensive erosion control methods.

Block Island Southeast Lighthouse, Rhode Island, was moved back from the edge of eroding Mohegan Bluffs in 1993 because it was threatened by erosion. Circa 2001 photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

In the UK, a project called STORMLAMP, coordinated by University of Plymouth, University of Exeter, and University College London, began studying the effects of rising sea levels on offshore rock (wave-swept) lighthouses in 2016. The project is working closely with the UK General Lighthouse Authorities (Trinity House, the Commissioners of Irish Lights, and the Northern Lighthouse Board) to formulate guidance for structural condition assessment and management of rock lighthouses.

You can read more on the STORMLAMP website by clicking here.

On November 22, the Associated Press released a story on the threat of rising sea levels to lighthouses in the United States. According to the article:

“In New Jersey, seas have risen by 1.3 feet (0.4 meters) over the past 100 years, said Benjamin Horton, a Rutgers University professor and leading expert on climate change and sea level rise. That is a faster pace than for the past 2,000 years combined, he said. Horton and other Rutgers researchers project that by 2050, seas off New Jersey will rise by an additional 1.4 feet.”

You can read this AP news story on the ABC4 News site (Charleston, SC)



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.