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.
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.
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.”
Candace was the US Lighthouse Society historian from 2016 until she passed away in August 2018. For 30 years, her work involved lighthouse history. She worked with the National Park Service and the Council of American Maritime Museums. She was a noted author and was considered the most knowledgable person on lighthouse information at the National Archives. Books by Candace Clifford include: Women who Kept the Lights: a History of Thirty-eight Female Lighthouse Keepers , Mind the Light Katie, and Maine Lighthouses, Documentation of their Past.