Hurricanes, Nor’easters, and Sea Level Rise: Implications for Coastal Systems


Instructor: Dr. James Cervino

Fulfills requirement: Case Study (CS)
Day: Thursday and a Saturday field trip
Dates: Sep. 6, 13, 20, 22*, 27 (Module 1, 5 sessions)
Time: 6:10 – 8:10 PM
Room location: Schermerhorn Extension 652
Course number: ENVB 0386 N

Date and time: Saturday, September 22 from 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Location: Oyster Reef and Wetlands Restoration Project in Queens; students are responsible for transportation to the field site

Course Description

Under a warmer global climate, glacier and continental ice sheet melt contribute to sea level rise (SLR) through the input of increased volumes of freshwater to the ocean, while heat absorption by the ocean contributes to SLR via the process of thermal expansion. Recent reports indicate that SLR and changes in ocean currents are creating atmospheric and oceanic instability, both of which are expected to contribute to intensified natural disasters (e.g., extreme storms) in the next 50 years along coastal zones, including New York City. Given the high population densities in certain coastal zones and the unique ecosystems found along other coasts (e.g., mangroves and coral reefs), such disasters may have devastating effects on both human and natural coastal systems. In this course, students will learn and apply basic concepts in oceanography and atmospheric science to understand relationships between SLR, climate change, ocean and atmospheric circulation, and near-shore coastal processes. The course will draw on New York City as a case study to explore current and future impacts of SLR and extreme events.

About the Instructor

Dr. James Cervino holds a bachelor’s degree from New York University that focused on earth science and physical anthropology, a master’s degree from Boston University in marine biology, and a PhD in marine science from University of South Carolina. His research interests involve the investigation of global warming-induced climate change and chemical pollution and its links to disease, compromised immunity, and cancer in marine habitats globally. His current research interests are to understand how chemicals move through food chains and the biological and ecological effects of chemical pollution, thermal stress, and disease on tropical marine life and wetlands, specifically marine plants and Cnidarians globally. He recently started an environmental consulting firm in New York City and is a visiting scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.