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Coastal Flood Risk is on the Rise


NOAA: U.S. increasingly at risk of coastal flooding

Both coastal communities and island territories of the United States are increasingly at risk of flooding as the years go on, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported recently.

The NOAA, through its U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit on Climate.gov, analyzed coastal flood risk in the U.S. and its island territories. The results are in: Not only has coastal flooding risk risen in recent years, but it is also still on the rise.

Coastal flooding in the result of which there can be many causes -- storm surges, high tides, strong waves, torrential rains, tsunamis, and more. And as global sea level rises in the coming years the risk of these events occurring will only rise. According to the NOAA, average global sea level increased eight inches during 20th Century, and projections vary widely for the current century -- a rise of between 8 inches and 6.6 feet could occur by 2100.

And, scientists caution, seas likely won’t stop rising by 2100, either, as the ocean typically takes a while to react to warmer surface conditions.

People, assets, infrastructure in harm's way

Not only are millions of U.S. citizens directly impacted by the hazards of coastal flooding, but critical infrastructure and important assets are also in harm's way. Both water and energy infrastructure are often at risk of coastal floods, and, depending on the specific community, ports, tourism business, fishing operations and more can be directly impacted by the aftermath of flooding at the coastline.

Future flood risk & sea level rise

The NOAA strongly cautioned that historical flood data for coastal communities would do little good predicting future flood risk, largely due to increasing global sea level. Due to the impacts of climate change and the variability in coastal areas, all future flood risk analysis must not ignore the impact of sea level rise.

Matt Mills Matt Mills has been involved in various aspects of online media, both on the editorial side and on the technology side, for more than 16 years. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, and is currently involved in multiple projects focused on innovation journalism.