Rising Oceans, a Story in Batik

Great Barrier Reef II (Australia), 108″ x 45,” batik on silk. Mary Edna Fraser.























Artist Mary Edna Fraser has a new exhibit called Our Expanding Oceans at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. These are beautiful batik pieces designed to use art as a vehicle to share scientific information. Many are featured in a new book, Global Climate Change: A Primer, by Orrin and Keith Pilkey, Duke University Press:

Global warming endangers coral reefs in two ways. If sea level rise is too rapid the reefs will drown and if maximum summer temperatures are too high, fatal coral bleaching (caused by loss of the symbiotic zooxanthellae algae) may occur. Bleaching has already killed portions of the Great Barrier reefs. Fortunately if conditions are right, reefs can recover. —Orrin Pilkey 

Mary Edna Fraser tells me of the outcome of her first snorkeling adventure in 2007:

And it was my initiation into underwater photography as well. The batik is a synthesis of that experience which was like flying under water with colors and shapes constantly in motion. This aquatic excursion changed my life forever.


Charleston Airborne Flooded, 95.5″ x 35,” batik on silk. Mary Edna Fraser.























The piece above is of Fraser’s hometown, Charleston, North Carolina. It’s based on a NOAA projection of a 4.5-foot/1.4-meter rise in sea level by the year 2100:

The dark green band along this Charleston regional shoreline is the area that will be flooded after a 4.5 foot sea level rise. The barrier islands along the outer coast have largely disappeared in this projection, though in reality the islands might instead grow narrower and migrate toward the mainland. Anyone planning on a property purchase in this area might be well-served by this beautiful piece of art. Already sea level rise has made the storm water runoff system ineffective and unable to drain the city during a simultaneous heavy rain and high tide. As the shoreline moves inland, so will future storm surge levels and storm waves. All told, coastal living in the lower coastal plain faces a challenging future. —Orrin Pilkey

You can see more of Fraser’s art-science mashups here.

Crossposted from Deep Blue Home.


as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.


as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.