CIRCA Blog: Sea Level Rise in Connecticut: Planning for 20 in / 50 cm in 2050
By Rebecca A. French, Ph.D., CIRCA Director of Community Engagement
On October 19, 2017, CIRCA released an Executive Summary of its locally updated sea-level rise scenarios and recommendations on how Connecticut should adapt to the mean sea level changes projected in a 2012 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report (Parris et al, CPO-1 Report, 2012):
"We recommend that planning anticipates that sea level will be 0.5 m (1ft 8 inches) higher than the national tidal datum in Long Island Sound by 2050. It is likely that sea level will continue to increase after 2050. We recommend that global mean sea level measurements and projections be monitored and new assessments be provided to towns at decadal intervals to ensure that planning be informed by the best available science."(O'Donnell, Executive Summary, 2017)
It is important to note that the 20 in/50 cm planning level is
a prediction of the expected sea level increase by 2050, as has been reported in some recent newspaper articles. Rather,
20 in/50 cm characterizes the upper end of the range of values projected using several different simulation approaches and local tide gauge data sets
. Together with the 10-year review, this is a prudent approach to providing planning guidance in a changing world.
On the CIRCA website (https://circa.uconn.edu/) the public can find the Executive Summary of the report and a 30-minute presentation by the report's author and CIRCA Executive Director, Professor James O'Donnell. It provides a more in-depth explanation of his analyses and conclusions. The presentation shows how NOAA's low, intermediate-low, intermediate and high global sea level rise projections were updated for Connecticut, and measurements from tide gauges in Long Island Sound were employed to create the recommendations.
More information can be found on our website or by contacting CIRCA staff directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 4, 2018- Climate Change Forum
Glastonbury Riverfront Community Center
300 Welles St
Glastonbury, CT 06033
Event features a panel of four experts who will discuss the local impacts and local responses to climate change from their individual perspectives. Included are Juliana Barrett, PhD Connecticut Sea Grant College Program at UConn Avery Point, James O'Donnell, PhD, executive director of the CT Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation, Giovianni Zinn, New Haven City Engineer, and Morgan Tingley, PhD, Assistant Professor with the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the UConn Storrs, CT. Moderating the panel will be Andy Bauer, member of the Portland Clean Energy Task Force and teacher at Glastonbury's Smith Middle School. The event is free and open to the public.
Register by April 16- NFIP Community Rating System Training
The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (CTDEEP) and the Connecticut Association of Flood Managers (CAFM) are pleased to sponsor a four day training course on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS). This is the same class that is held at the FEMA Emergency Management Institute (EMI) in Emmitsburg, MD. We are pleased that Connecticut was chosen to hold this field deployed class in 2018.
The 4-day course will be held June 4 through June 7, 2018 at Fort Trumbull State Park in New London, CT. Please see the attached document for course objectives, prerequisites, course location information, continuing education credits, and registration procedures.
Registration requires both payment and submission of the registration form by Monday, April 16th to be accepted. Seating is limited to 35 students. Please note that while registration forms must be sent to Diane Ifkovic at Connecticut DEEP, payments must be made to CAFM.
Payments may be sent by mail to:
P.O. Box 270213
West Hartford, CT 06105
For more information & for Registration/Payments click
April 20, 2018 - Paris, Policy and The Grid: The Future of Transnational Energy Policy, UConn CEEL event
Friday, April 20, 2018 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
*Registration required by April 13*
The Paris Agreement brought nearly two hundred countries together to pledge their national efforts to combat climate change. Less than two years later, the United States announced its intention to withdraw from this agreement. Please join the Center for Energy & Environmental Law and the Connecticut Journal of International Law for a symposium devoted to the international, national, and regional impacts of this new global reality on energy policy, grid stability, and renewables.
Our day will include distinguished keynote addresses from Commissioner Richard Glick of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of the World Wildlife Fund's Global Climate and Energy Practice.
Our panels will focus on the changing face of international energy policy, how national policies are adapting to the new Paris reality, and the impact on New England and the rest of the United States. Panelists are drawn from diverse perspectives and include Commissioner Robert Klee of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, international and national academics and practitioners in energy law, and industry representatives.
Our day will conclude with a networking reception.
This event is free for students, faculty, and staff; $40 for practitioners and other guests.
Eligible for Connecticut CLE credit.
If you require reasonable accommodations for a disability, please contact the Law School at 860-570-5130 or via email at
at least two weeks in advance.
April 30, May 1, and May 2- 2018 Local Solutions: Eastern Climate Preparedness Conference
Antioch University New England and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are hosting the 2018 Local Solutions: Eastern Climate Preparedness Conference on April 30, May 1 and May 2nd 2018 at The Manchester Downtown Hotel in Manchester, NH.
Thanks to the engagement of more than 500 participants from Washington, D.C. to Maine, the first Local Solutions conference in May 2014 in Manchester NH was a great success. Our second conference in April 2016 in Baltimore MD continued to draw participants across the eastern U.S. to successfully deliver interactive capacity building sessions on all aspects of preparing for severe weather and climate change impacts in the United States. See our Conferences page for more information on the past two conferences.
For this third conference, we will cover a range of climate preparedness and resiliency issues such as: sea level rise, urban heat, and both coastal and inland flooding issues. The conference is geared for small government planners and decision-makers striving to create healthy resilient communities that are better able to handle severe weather and climate impacts. The current methodologies, protocols and policies inherent in planning and budgeting at the community level are not always adequate for the recent onslaught of climate impacts.
This conference guides local government planners on how to make climate resilience an aspect of their daily operations. The conference will be organized with the help of a diverse and dedicated Steering Committee, which will include members from state and federal agencies, non-profits and academic institutions from around the eastern United States.
Christa Daniels for Registration & Hotel questions
Antioch Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience
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New England Forests and Rivers Fund
Full Proposal Due Date: Thursday, April 26th, 2018 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time
The New England Forests and Rivers Fund is dedicated to restoring and sustaining healthy forests and rivers that provide habitat for diverse native bird and freshwater fish populations in New England. This program annually awards competitive grants ranging from $50,000 to $200,000 each.
In its first three years, the program has awarded 39 grants that will restore early successional and mature forest habitat, modify and replace barriers to fish movement, restore riparian and instream habitat, and engage hundreds of volunteers in forest habitat restoration and stream connectivity projects in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. These projects are expected to:
- Open 555 miles of streams for eastern brook trout and river herring through barrier modification or replacement;
- Improve 2,134 acres of young and mature forest habitat for black-throated blue warbler, wood thrush, New England cottontail, and American woodcock; and
- Recruit at least 1,314 volunteers to engage in on-the-ground conservation.
Over $4.2 million in grant funds has been awarded.
The grantees, in turn, are leveraging an additional $6.6 million in matching contributions, for a total conservation impact of $10.8 million.
Major funding for the New England Forests and Rivers Fund is provided by Eversource's Partners for New Hampshire's Fish and Wildlife, the American Forest Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Forest Service.
For more information & to apply click here
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Travel grants available for the "Local Solutions: Eastern Regional Climate Preparedness Conference," on April 30-May 2, 2018, Manchester, NH
Travel grants are available for municipal employees, elected or appointed municipal decision-makers, county government employees, regional planning council personnel, and other local decision-makers for "Local Solutions: Eastern Regional Climate Preparedness Conference," April 30-May 2, 2018, Manchester, NH.
For more information & to apply for a travel grant click here
Long Island Sound Futures Fund 2018 Request for Proposals
Full Proposal Due Date: Thursday, May 10, 2018 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time
The Long Island Sound Futures Fund (Futures Fund) is soliciting proposals to secure clean water and healthy watersheds, restore thriving habitats and abundant wildlife, and engage the public in creating sustainable and resilient communities around the Long Island Sound Watershed. Approximately $2 million is expected to be available for projects in 2018. The Futures Fund grant program is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Long Island Sound Study (LISS), and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
For more information & to apply click here
CIRCA in the News
May 20, 2018- Malloy Offers Bills That Center on Fighting Climate Change
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is proposing separate bills to prevent further deterioration of the state's shoreline and promote clean energy to fight climate change.
Combined, the bills would help the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase accessibility of solar panels.
"Climate change is real, it's man-made, and it's here," Malloy said Monday during an announcement of the bills.
The governor cited "unprecedented drought and wildfires in Western states," an increase in global temperatures, and more violent storms as evidence of the impact of fossil fuels.
"Sea levels are expected to rise by nearly 2 feet over the next 30 years, causing great harm to our coastal communities," Malloy said. "Fairness to future generations of Connecticut residents demands that we adjust our current practices to prevent climate disaster."
Malloy's proposals come in response to the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation's recommendation that the state adopt a plan for dealing with rising sea levels.
The governor's proposals include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent from 2001 to 2030, require all coastal projects to meet the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation recommendations, and update the state's coastal boundary maps to represent the approximate 2-foot rise in sea level.
To help accomplish the emissions goal, Malloy is proposing increasing the renewable portfolio standard to 40 percent by 2030, making the CT Green Bank self-sustaining by 2025, and offering compensation for clean energy more simple and fair.
March 18, 2018- CT Governor's Legislation: Detrimental Or Helpful To Solar?, Solar Industry
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, D-Conn., and Rob Klee, commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), are advocating for the passage of the Malloy administration's environmental protection and resiliency bill, as well as the governor's energy bill, both of which have received public hearings in recent weeks. However, given the energy bill's effects on the state's net energy metering (NEM) policy, the legislation could actually hurt Connecticut's solar industry, according to a solar business group.
Taken together, according to a
from the Malloy administration, the two bills would represent a major step in Connecticut's efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, increase accessibility of residential rooftop solar, and combat the effects of climate change.
However, speaking out against one of the bills, Mike Trahan, executive director of Solar Connecticut, a group that connects homeowners and businesses with solar installers in Connecticut, says the energy bill, S.B.9 - An Act Concerning Connecticut's Energy Future, would be detrimental to the industry.
According to Trahan, the legislation poses several problems:
In a "
" arrangement, the bill "forces solar users to sell all generation back to the utility at sub-retail rates, meaning solar users cannot use their generation on-site to offset load and reduce their energy costs."
The bill "allows the electric utility behind-the-meter to control solar technology," in turn, "violat[ing] a property owner's right to self-generate, retain, store and consume their own generation."
The bill "snuffs out" battery storage: "Who would want a battery if the state requires you to push all your generation back to the grid as a condition of staying connected to the grid?"
On the other hand, as claimed by Malloy's press release, S.B.9 would do as follows:
Increase the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 40% by 2030.
Make the compensation for clean distributed generation simpler, fairer and more sustainable by doing as follows:
-Simplifying the current net metering/virtual net metering structures through the introduction of one competitive auction process resulting in a long-term contract for winning bids.
-Establishing a fixed rate for residential programs (i.e., rooftop solar) through a Public Utilities Regulatory Authority rate setting process that ensures that developers cover their costs and earn a fair rate of return.
-Most significantly, this proposal would increase the megawatts deployed of renewable energy at a savings of over $1 billion in ratepayer dollars over 20 years compared with the continuation of current programs.
Establish a procurement process for energy efficiency as a resource and set a minimum efficiency target based on current investment levels in order to mitigate the impact of the 2017 energy efficiency fund sweeps.
Fortify the CT Green Bank in the marketplace. With a leverage rate of 8:1, this legislation would allow the CT Green Bank to establish a sufficient portfolio to become a self-sustaining enterprise by 2025, reducing the need for future ratepayer support while continuing to be an economic engine for Connecticut.
In regard to changing the state's NEM policy, Trahan recently argued - in a testimony before the Connecticut General Assembly's Energy and Technology Committee - that there is currently no need for a change.
Trahan said research conducted by the DEEP "leans heavily on the cost-shift argument to make the case that a successor to net energy metering is 'urgently needed.'"
"Our view is that transitioning away from NEM will be necessary at some point to ensure fairness in electricity costs across all ratepayers," he said. "Although, numerous studies, including a report from U.S. Department of Energy researchers, clearly show that the small amount of solar installed in states like Connecticut does not merit a policy change at this time. There is no analysis showing how much Connecticut ratepayers not using solar are impacted by ratepayers that do. None."
He added, "Given that the U.S. DOE research finds rooftop solar penetration levels remain so low that the cost-shift issue is of little significance outside a few states, the fact that an overwhelming number of Americans support NEM, and the absence of data collected in Connecticut demonstrating need to upset the current NEM system, we see no basis for abandoning Connecticut's NEM policy in favor of an untested new tariff, as DEEP proposes."
On the other side, the Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST), citing the success of net metering, testified in favor of the bill.
"Virtual net metering has been a successful program in assisting municipalities in reducing costs and improving energy efficiency," said Kathryn Dube, membership and legislative services director of COST. "Given the importance of this program in improving energy efficiency and helping the state meet its renewable energy goals, expanding opportunities for VNM should be incorporated in the bill.
"Incentive programs along with alternate energy programs, such as virtual net metering, are essential to municipalities in managing electric rates. Many municipalities view VNM as a way to reduce overall costs for their residents. These opportunities will allow towns to reduce their energy costs while continuing to deliver essential programs and services," Dube claimed.
Separately, the governor's climate change bill focuses on the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation's (CIRCA) recommendations that Connecticut plan for the upper range of sea level rise projections of nearly two feet by the year 2050.
Local & State News Clips
March 20, 2018- Malloy Pushes Climate Change Initiatives
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Monday pushed a series of climate change initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase residential solar arrays and combat the impact of rising sea levels.
But not all environmentalist and business leaders agree with the governor's proposals, some of which they say benefit power companies, hurt consumers and restrict coastal development.
"Climate change is real, it's manmade, and it's here," Malloy said during a noon press conference.
"We see the effects everywhere: unprecedented drought and wildfires in Western states, global temperatures increasing every year, and more powerful and unpredictable storms than we have ever encountered," Malloy said.
Malloy's proposals - contained in two bills before the General Assembly - would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and change coastal development boundaries in response to a projected future 2-foot rise in sea levels.
The bills also seek to increase the amount of renewable energy to be produced in the state, change how residential electric customers save money from solar energy and increase the amount of renewable energy to be deployed in the state.
Robert Klee, commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said the bills offer needed protections from future climate change.
"We witness those impacts firsthand in the roads that once did not flood, but that now flood frequently; the warming of the Long Island Sound and the slow but steady shift from a New England fishery to a Mid-Atlantic fishery; to the changes in our fall foliage season and wildlife habitats," Klee said.
March 9, 2018- Climate Impacts Leave Southern N.E. With Expensive Tab
The time is now to invest in those changes, profitable or not, as failure to act aggressively will cost everyone plenty. For example, as the Northeast has witnessed in the past week alone, more frequent and intense storms have quickly become the norm.
The number of severe weather events didn't start multiplying overnight. It just seems that way, because climate change has long been ignored. Over the course of the 1970s, there were 660 reported disasters worldwide, including droughts, floods, extreme temperature events, storms and wildfires. In the 2000s, there were 3,322 such events, according to author and 350.org board member
Global warming alone can't be blamed for the fivefold increase, but, as Klein wrote, "the climate signal is also clear."
In her 2014 book "This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate" she also wrote that, "The costs of coping with increasing weather extremes are astronomical. In the United States, each major disaster seems to cost taxpayers upward of a billion dollars."
Hurricane Irene in 2011 caused about $10 billion in damage, just a fraction of the some $380 billion in total global damage caused by disasters that year. A year later Superstorm Sandy caused an estimated $65 million in damage. Both storms were considered modest for this climate-change era.
In southern New England, where both Irene and Sandy inflicted heavy damage, the risks associated with climate change, especially sea-level rise and storm surge, are profound. Twenty-one of Rhode Island's 39 communities are on the coast. Connecticut has 24 coastal communities, which are home to about a third of the state's population.
In fact, about half of the region's population and a treasure trove of landmarks and historic sites dot southern New England's coast. Boston and Scituate, Mass., Wickford, Matunuck and Misquamicut in Rhode Island, and Old Lyme and Groton, Conn., are some of the region's most-vulnerable areas.
Groton, a city with 20 miles of coastline on the Long Island Sound, is experiencing more frequent flooding along its coast and rivers. Route 1, the city's main east-west roadway, is flooding more often.
March 2, 2018- A Novelty in Connecticut, National Center for Science Education
Senate Bill 345
would, if enacted, require the teaching of climate change "consistent with the Next Generation Science Standards" in the state's public schools, and would also task the state department of energy and environmental protection with helping local and regional school districts develop appropriate curricula to do so.
If the bill is enacted, Connecticut would apparently become the first state to require the teaching of climate change in the public schools by law. (Many states already require the teaching of climate change in effect, through its inclusion in their state science standards, but not as a matter of statutory law).
Connecticut adopted the NGSS, where global climate change is presented as one of four sub-ideas in the core idea of Earth and Human Activity in the earth and space sciences at both the middle school and the high school level, in 2015, so presumably the bill is aimed at helping to bolster climate change's presence in Connecticut science classrooms.
Senate Bill 345 is a "raised" bill, meaning that it was introduced by a committee rather than by any individual legislators. It was introduced by the Joint Committee on Environment - in Connecticut, all legislative committees contain members of both chambers of the legislature - where it is currently awaiting a hearing.
National News Clips
March 15, 2018- Robert Thorson: Winter Nor'easters Washing Cape Cod Away
Nourishing beaches with sand to keep the tourists happy is like nourishing your body with food. It's a temporary fix. Before you know it, the ocean is hungry again.
And the ocean has been particularly hungry this year. Four powerful nor'easters slammed the New England coast this winter. Waves exceeded 40 feet, communities were flooded, sea walls crumbled, clam shacks were destroyed and beaches were stripped of so much sand that once-buried shipwrecks appeared on the Maine Coast. Two of these storms caused the highest and third-highest tidal surges in Boston since good record keeping began in 1825.
During the past century, wave power was intensified by planetary warming. Local sea levels are rising faster than expected, due to irreversible meltdown of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets and to downward flexing of the Earth's crust.
Within the next few thousand years, interglacial sea levels will likely rise 15 to 20 feet above present heights. New England's strong, rocky mainland will survive, but much of Cape Cod and the Islands will disappear, one storm-bite at a time. This "inevitable loss of this fragile land to the sea" was predicted decades ago by Robert Oldale, a highly respected U.S. Geological Survey geologist and former colleague.
His prediction was for Sarah Dinwoodey, a then ninth-grade st
udent who had asked him what the future would bring. Oldale's response began with before-and-after photographs of Billingsgate Island, the so-called "Atlantis" of Cape Cod.
When the Pilgrims arrived in 1620, they saw a peninsula extending southward into Cape Cod Bay from the mainland west of Wellfleet. Thanks to storm erosion, that peninsula became a 60-acre island supporting a 30-house community of fishermen and whalers. By 1855, the island had been cut in half and the original lighthouse destroyed. A higher, stronger, replacement lighthouse was built of bricks, supported by massive granite stones and armored by 1,000 feet of sea wall.
That, too, was gobbled up, one storm at a time until 1915, when the entire island disappeared. Today, ruins decorate a sandy shoal.
The story of Billingsgate Island at the century scale is a microcosm for the story of Cape Cod during the past few thousand years and for the next few thousand to come. The basic story is simple. Rising seas cause coastal erosion, which provides sand for beaches, which grow and shrink as they are reshaped by currents before being inevitably lost to the sea. Oldale correctly put a positive spin on shoreline erosion: "Sand is the very life blood of Cape Cod. How then, can we consider erosion, the process that supplies this sand, anything but a benefit to the Cape?"
March 14, 2018- FEMA Flood Maps Massively Underestimate Real Risks, Study Finds. Florida's A Hot Spot
Flood risk, a perpetual concern in porous, low-slung South Florida, is far worse here and across the continental U.S. than now projected under Federal Emergency Management Agency flood maps used by homeowners to decide where to buy insurance, according to a new assessment.
Nearly 41 million Americans - more than three times current estimates - could face 100-year flooding, the study found. The amount of property at risk is more than double.
With about $714 billion in property located in a 100-year floodplain, Florida is a national hotspot.
The study's authors blamed the massive miscalculation on FEMA's patchwork of maps, which rely on local authorities to plot flood zones. The process is complicated and time consuming, and often fraught with politics. In addition, FEMA has approved maps for less than 60 percent of the U.S. Many of those local maps also use outdated information while global models use unsophisticated technology, said co-author Kris Johnson, associate director for science and planning at the Nature Conservancy, which teamed up with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the University of Bristol to conduct the review.
"No matter how you slice it, when you look at the whole country, a significant part does not have reliable, up-to-date information on where flood risk is present," he said.
March 14, 2018- Six Figures For Six Feet: Some Harvey Victims in Houston Spend Huge Sums To Elevate Their Homes
When Marni Axelrad and her family moved to Houston's Meyerland neighborhood in 2015, they planned to stay there for years to come. They loved the community, and their kids were going to great schools.
Then the floods came.
The 2015 Memorial Day flood brought 6 inches of water into their newly purchased home. They fixed the damage and moved back in. Then Hurricane Harvey flooded the house with more than 2 feet of water last summer.
Despite two floods in three years, the family's not moving. Instead, they recently paid a contractor nearly $300,000 to lift their 3,350-square-foot house 6 feet off the ground so they won't have to worry about the next big storm.
"At the end of the day, we love our neighborhood," Axelrad said. "Everything is great except the flooding. Here, we know our neighbors, we love our schools, it's close to work. We didn't want to leave."
A growing number of Houston homeowners who have suffered repeated flooding - the city has seen major floods for three straight years - have decided to elevate their homes. And most, like Axelrad and her husband, largely have to pay for the elevation themselves. With a mix of their own money, insurance funds, a small grant and an SBA loan, the family of five is chipping away at the $280,000 elevation bill. They've stopped saving money and contributing to their retirement fund to help pay off the new debt.
Like many of their neighbors, they applied for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to elevate their home after the 2015 flood but found themselves behind more than 200 others on the waiting list.
As of December, only 42 families had received those FEMA grants, and just nine had elevated their homes or begun construction. Those looking to elevate their homes after Harvey have two options: get on FEMA's list and risk flooding again as they wait or find a way to fund the project themselves.
March 7, 2018- 28 Million Americans Live in Flood Zones and Don't Know It, Study Finds
Houston has learned the hard way time and again that the maps FEMA uses to set flood insurance rates are way out of whack with the reality on the ground.
Now, a scientific
in the journal Environmental Research Letters pinpoints just how much: 41 million Americans live in a 100-year flood zone - three times as many as the Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates. That means a full 28 million are outside the boundaries of the 100-year flood zone on current FEMA maps, but would be in it if FEMA used what the study argues is better data.
"Producing maps the FEMA way essentially misses a lot of flood hazard," Oliver Wing, of the University of Bristol and lead author of the study,
told City Lab
. "And these maps are what inform risk management decisions in the U.S. at the moment."
One big problem is that FEMA maps tend to ignore smaller streams running through populated areas, Wing said.
In Harris County, for example, FEMA maps don't account for about half of the county's 2,400 miles of channel, according to the Harris County Flood Control District.
The study suggests that $5.5 trillion in assets are in the zones, with $400 billion of that in Texas. That figure will triple or quadruple by 2100, the study says.
It doesn't take into account sea level rise and heavier rainfall expected to come along with climate change, so it likely underestimates the exposure, the authors warned.
March 7, 2018- Sea Level Rise in the SF Bay Area Just Got A Lot More Dire
If you move to the San Francisco Bay Area, prepare to pay some of the most exorbitant home prices on the planet. Also, prepare for the fact that someday, your new home could be underwater-and not just financially.
Sea level rise threatens to wipe out swaths of the Bay's densely populated coastlines, and a
out today in Science Advances paints an even more dire scenario: The coastal land is also sinking, making a rising sea that much more precarious. Considering sea level rise alone, models show that, on the low end, 20 square miles could be inundated by 2100. But factor in subsiding land and that estimate jumps to almost 50 square miles. The high end? 165 square miles lost.
The problem is a geological phenomenon called
. Different kinds of land sink at different rates. Take, for instance, Treasure Island, which resides between San Francisco and Oakland. It's an artificial island made of landfill, and it's sinking fast, at a rate of a third of an inch a year. San Francisco Airport is also sinking fast and could see half its runways and taxiways underwater by 2100, according to the new analysis.
Now, subsidence is nothing new to climate scientists. "People have been aware that this is an issue," says UC Berkeley's Roland Burgmann, coauthor of the paper. "What was missing was really data that has high enough resolution and accuracy to fully integrate" subsidence in the Bay Area.
March 6, 2018- New Report Predicts Rising Tides, More Flooding
Some of the worst flooding during this past weekend's
East Coast storm
happened during high tides.
Shoreline tides are getting progressively higher. A soon-to-be-published report obtained by NPR predicts a future where flooding will be a weekly event in some coastal parts of the country.
"The numbers are staggering," says oceanographer
, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Today's storm will be tomorrow's high tide," he says, referring to how high coastal water rises. "A storm [such as we experienced] along the East Coast of the United States this weekend, that will be a high tide at some point in the future, whether that's two or three decades or eight decades, we'll see, but it's coming."
This new report sets out to give communities a clear guide to prepare for coastal flooding. "We find that minor flooding starts on average about a foot and half above high tide," says Sweet. "Moderate flooding starts about 2 1 /2 feet above high tide, and major flooding starts about 4 feet."
That's what people can expect now; it gives them a margin of safety, and for the most part communities have been built to handle that. But here's the thing: As high tides get higher, that is inexorably reducing the margin of safety.
In fact, even without a storm, high tides already are flooding cities like Miami and Norfolk, Va. And now NOAA's latest calculations portray a future where this kind of "sunny day" flooding will become a lot more frequent.
NOAA's calculations of future high tides assumes two "intermediate" forecasts of how much sea level will rise - from 1 1/2 feet to 3 feet by 2100. It by no means assumes some of the more severe scenarios should the ice sheets in Greenland or the Antarctic melt. Even with intermediate rise, by 2050 cities on the Atlantic would see high tides flooding the streets 25 to 130 times a year. By 2100, it could happen almost every day. These frequencies will be influenced by weather patterns like El Nino and prevailing winds, but over time they'll occur more often from rising tides alone as sea level gets higher.
The Resilience Roundup highlights
CIRCA's presence in the news, provides links to recent local/state/national news articles related to resilience and adaptation, and announces upcoming events and seminars.
The Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation's (CIRCA) mission is to increase the resilience and sustainability of vulnerable communities along Connecticut's coast and inland waterways to the growing impacts of climate change and extreme weather on the natural, built, and human environment. The institute is located at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus and includes faculty from across the university. CIRCA is a partnership between UConn and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP).