Ike Pounded Fragile Ecosystems

Coastal damage from development intensified storm's impact
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2008 3:43 AM CDT
Sea birds fly past a home in an area hit by heavy beach erosion caused by Hurricane Ike in the West End section of Galveston, Texas.   (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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(Newser) – Hurricane Ike caused massive damage to fragile coastal ecosystems already clobbered by development, the Dallas Morning News reports. Damage to wetlands vital to a vast range of life could take a generation to heal, scientists warn. As with Hurricane Katrina, human development had already destroyed marshes and other natural defenses, making the storm deadlier to people and wildlife.

The damage to Texas' coastal ecosystems is an ominous signs of how things could worsen with climate change and rising sea levels, scientists say, making it urgent to take steps now to reduce hurricane threats.  "We have some options, but they're running out," said a researcher. "We need to take advantage of this disaster to learn."