LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - A lecture Monday evening at USM's Gulf Park Campus was presented to answer the question, "Are Sea Levels Rising?" The university invited a lead researcher on the topic to the coast as part of a lecture series on ocean science.
The second annual "Dennis and Jean Wiesenburg Distinguished Lecture Series in Ocean Science" brought Dr. Benjamin Horton, professor at Rutgers University, to discuss the hot topic of rising sea levels. According to Horton, what was speculation in the past has now been scientifically proven.
"The scientific community knows the sea level will rise in the 21st century, but we aren't sure of the magnitude," said Horton.
His mission is to inform the public of the effects of rising sea levels, especially when it comes to coastal communities. Which makes his lecture hit home with many living on the Gulf.
He said that effects of the rising sea levels can even be seen in a time span of less than a decade.
"Hurricane Katrina, obviously a devastating event, but if that was to occur in 2014, the effect would be worse, because sea level is higher," said Horton.
This is because a storm surge riding on top of already risen waters would push even further inland.
For the people attending the lecture, this news took no convincing. One of the attendees, David Reed, is now retired from 35 years of forecasting floods for the National Weather Service. When it comes to the effect of floods, he's seen his share.
"I live on the beach, and a meter sea level rise would almost put me at Gulf front property," said Reed.
Eve Eisemann is a grad student at USM. She agrees with Horton in the thought that the issue of rising sea levels can be dealt with. But, she says it's going to take a lot of work.
"We need to figure out how to find this balance between keeping people happy in their homes and also, preserving the environments along the coast," said Eisemann.
Otherwise, according to this lecture, we could be facing major changes to our coastlines in the not so distant future.
Horton is a professor at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University. He said the rising sea levels may not be extremely drastic in a short period of time. But a gradual change over a century could have devastating results to coastlines.