Mapping the Ever-Changing Coastline

July 23, 2018 9:49 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

The threat of rising sea levels has created a great deal of concern in coastal states like Alabama. In addition to the threat it poses to the environment through flooding and the significant amount of funding it will take to keep water levels at bay, it will also result in the need for new land surveys on a widespread basis, as people’s owned land literally erodes away.

This is nothing new on a historical level—the earliest inhabitants of coastlines on the Gulf of Mexico were also forced to adapt their lifestyles and move their homes in response to changing water levels. But the rate at which it’s suddenly happening now is certainly something unprecedented in recent human history, which has created a sense of urgency among environmentalists, surveyors and residents alike. At Polysurveying, we take this information into account when performing surveying in Mobile, AL.

Information from recent studies

It is these historical instances of rising sea levels that researchers have been analyzing to get more insight into the struggles people who live along the coasts face today. Some sites along the Gulf shores in Florida and Alabama in particular contain evidence of human occupation that dates back up to 4,000 years. The placement of these sites may well have been influenced by changing environments at the time.

According to studies in the region, sea levels started to rise along the Gulf Coast after the Last Glacial Maximum, when the Northern Hemisphere’s climate began to warm substantially, causing the ice sheets to melt away.

Researchers took sediment samples from one site at Horseshoe Cove in Florida and analyzed them to determine the kinds of minerals they contained and the age of those materials. This allowed them to determine which areas had been underwater and at what times. What the study showed was that there was a strong correlation between changing environments and the timing of certain human settlements throughout multiple centuries.

What does this mean for coastal residents today?

If history repeats itself, we will soon start to see settlements move farther inland as the shores creep inward. The more the shores begin to disappear and the more the sea rises, the more important it will become for property owners to have their land surveyed to determine where exactly their land ends, how much land they’ve lost in a certain amount of time and how that affects property values and tax valuations.

In addition, as settlements begin to move inward, surveys will be necessary for new construction or to determine where certain boundary lines exist.

Obviously, this is a long-term phenomenon in the sense of a human’s perspective, but from a global perspective, this is a very immediate and pressing issue, precipitated largely by climate change. If you’re interested in learning more about the effects of the rising sea levels and how that will affect existing settlements, jobs and individual properties, we encourage you to contact the land surveyors in Mobile, AL at Polysurveying and we will be happy to answer any questions you have.

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