Around the country, scientists are sounding the alarm about saltwater intrusion. But the responses on the ground are sometimes inadequate and may not be sustainable because they run up against economic pressures from development, farming or tourism.
With seas rising, farmers along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts increasingly suffer from one of the initial impacts of climate change: saltwater intrusion. Often, the damage is compounded by farming methods ingrained over the years.
From the mid-Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico, salt is killing groves of trees from the roots up. Advancing water is pressing landowners and farmers into wrenching decisions and is challenging conservationists to find corridors for marshes to survive.
The cascading consequences of saltwater intrusion were starkly revealed in interviews with more than 100 researchers, planners and coastal residents, along with soil testing and analyses of well-sample data conducted by the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism.
South Florida’s flooding streets get the attention, but what is happening beneath the surface presents clear — and in some cases eye-popping — evidence of another threat: saltwater intrusion.