On Wednesday, November 19th, Portsmouth Mayor Robert Lister will be speaking to Portsmouth High School science students and the environmental club members about Portsmouth’s efforts in adapting to climate change and about what he’s learned on the issue after participating in a panel on sea level rise in Washington DC.
Joining the mayor will be the winner of the 2014 King Tide Photo Contest, Ron Sher of North Hampton. Mr. Sher will be receiving his $250 prize donated by Aquarion Water Company of Hampton and discussing his experience photographing the highest tide of the year. The event will be at Portsmouth High School at 11:30am on Wednesday, November 19th.
The 2014 King Tide Photo contest, held on October 9th during the highest tide of the year, was hosted by the New Hampshire Coastal Adaptation Workgroup (NHCAW). NHCAW is a collaboration of 20 organizations working to help communities in New Hampshire’s Seacoast area prepare for the effects of extreme weather events and other effects of long term climate change.
More than 80 images were submitted by 35 area citizens. The Peoples’ Choice contest winner was Maren Bhagat of Dover, she received a dinner for two to Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Café. Runners up received sailing passes on the Gundalow, memberships and tickets to the Seacoast Science Center and gift cards to Live Free Photography of Portsmouth.
The judging panel included Mayor Lister, New Hampshire Public Radio’s Sam Evans-Brown, Pax World Investment’s Julie Gorte, Seacoast Photographer Kristin Burchsted and New Hampshire Sea Grant’s Chris Keeley.
“It’s important for people to document what’s happening right in our coastal backyard,” said Julie Gorte, “and nice for people to get involved through photography.”
This year’s King Tide reached around 10.5 feet. A typical tide in the Seacoast region is between 6 and 8 feet. “King Tide illustrates what may become the new tidal norm due to sea-level rise,” explained Roger Stephenson, New Hampshire consultant for the Union of Concerned Scientists and Stratham representative on the New Hampshire Coastal Risks and Hazards Commission.
“In anticipation of the King Tide event, I knew that I wanted to head to the marshes of Hampton as I am always amazed by the juxtaposition of the salt marshes and man-made infrastructure and residences. Like many of the major weather events and storm surges of the past, this area was once again affected; an ever present reminder that our earth and climate is rapidly changing,” explained third place King Tide winner Mike Barron of Hampton.
Sea levels within New Hampshire have increased approximately half a foot over the past century, and scientists anticipate an additional rise by 2100 of between 1.7 feet and 6.6 feet. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its 2013 report, notes that the projected range of sea level rise will be affected by the magnitude and rate of ice-sheet melting and their scientists could not quantify “an upper bound to future rise” within the 21st century.
“The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99 percent of the world’s water bodies, according to recent research,” explains Jill Farrell from the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, “and thermal expansion of waters is part of what’s driving sea-level rise. It’s important that we work together across the region to begin understanding and addressing the impacts of climate change.”