Batches of sand from a beach on the Delaware Bay are yielding insights into the powerful impact of temperature rise and evaporation along the shore that are in turn challenging long-held assumptions about what causes beach salinity to fluctuate in coastal zones that support a rich network of sea creatures and plants. The findings have implications for the migration and survival of invertebrates such as mussels and crabs as global warming drives temperatures higher. A first major study of the effects of evaporation on the flow of subsurface water and salinity, or salt content, in the beach intertidal zone — the section of the beach between the low and high tide marks — was published in Scientific Reports, an online affiliate of Nature. The study, by New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Center for Natural Resources Development and led by two environmental engineers and a coastal geologist, shows that sediments from some sections of Slaughter Beach in Delaware have salt concentrations four times as high as the ocean water that washes over them.
From Science Daily Photo Credit John Vlahakis