Beach closed signage

Every summer, visitors flock to the beaches along Rhode Island’s 400 miles of coastline. And the locals gain the benefits of a five-billion-dollar tourism industry. But climate change is starting to interfere with Rhode Island’s beach season.

Rubinoff: “We have seen more and more heavy rain events.”

Climate change is starting to interfere with Rhode Island's beach season. Click To Tweet

Pam Rubinoff is a coastal resilience specialist for Rhode Island Sea Grant. She says excess rain washes lawn fertilizers and other pollutants into the ocean. It can also overwhelm sewer systems.

Rubinoff: “Sometimes that runoff will cause areas in the water to be cut off to swimming.”

And even when beaches are open, beachgoers may encounter problems.

Rubinoff: “So we have our bay waters are getting warmer, we have our air temperature obviously getting warmer.”

Warm days might seem like ideal beach weather, but warmer water can increase the number of jellyfish, harmful algal blooms, and seaweed.

Rubinoff: “So, we’re kind of seeing the full gamut, and all of that affects the tourism industry one way or another.”

The problem cannot be easily avoided by picking a different beach for your vacation. All around the country, swimmers and sunbathers are facing similar challenges.

Reporting credit: Rosie Simon/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo credit: Flikr | Peter Burka

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