Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Rising Tide Lifts All...Homes?

Rising Sea Levels Seen as Threat to Coastal U.S.
Justin Gillis, New York Times, March 13, 2012

About 3.7 million Americans live within a few feet of high tide and risk being hit by more frequent coastal flooding in coming decades because of the sea level rise caused by global warming, according to new research. The research was led by Dr. Benjamin H. Strauss for the nonprofit organization Climate Central, of Princeton, N.J., which conducts original climate research and also informs the public about the work of other scientists.

Florida is by far the most vulnerable, but Louisiana, California, New York and New Jersey are also particularly vulnerable, researchers found, and virtually the entire American coastline is at some degree of risk.

Estimated from a new tidal data set from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the new research calculates that in the lower 48 states, 3.7 million people—one percent of the nation's population—live within one meter of the mean high tide level. Land below that tide line is expected to be permanently inundated someday, possibly as early as 2100, except in places where extensive fortifications are built to hold back the sea. And under current coastal policies, the population and the value of property at risk in that zone are expected to continue rising.

Only in a handful of places have modest steps been taken to prepare. New York City is one: Pumps at some sewage stations have been raised to higher elevations, and the city government has undertaken extensive planning. But the city—including substantial sections of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island—remains vulnerable, as do large parts of Long Island, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Read the complete article here.

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