Sea level rise is a serious issue that is already happening and will only continue to do so in the coming decades. While sea level rise has many environmental and economic impacts, one of the major effects of rising seas is the flooding of coastal communities.
Effects on Coastal Communities
National Geographic recently published an article outlining how sea level rise is affecting countless cities across the United States and is only getting worse.
Chronic inundation resulting from sea level rise is no longer a problem of the future; as you are reading this 90 communities are regularly dealing with flooding. Within the next 20 years that number is expected to reach 170 communities, with numbers climbing each decade. This is particularly alarming considering the amount of major coastal communities such as Miami, New York City, and New Orleans.
The Union of Concerned Scientists has released an online map series that allows users to see exactly which communities are likely to be affected by rising sea levels and when. Worst and best cast scenarios can be compared, yet both scenarios are worrying.
The tab labeled “Added Risks” includes information about additional challenges associated with sea level rise within socioeconomically at-risk communities. Eastern North Carolina is featured in this section. As areas with high poverty rates and low education levels, Dare and Hyde Counties are likely to have less resources to deal with rising seas.
What does this mean for you?
Even if you live far from the coast, you will feel the impacts of oncoming sea level rise. That may come in the form of economic stress, agricultural shortages, or inability to visit the coast as frequently.
The flooding in North Carolina is expected to cause frequent inundation of the agricultural eastern region of the state as early as 2030 and much of the Outer Banks as early as 2045. Such flooding of these areas will make agriculture and coastal recreation difficult. Yet North Carolina’s coast is more than a vacation destination. Many people live and work on these barrier islands, making sea level rise even more hard hitting for the NC community.
As we look forward with this knowledge it is important to not get discouraged but rather to focus on working together towards preparation and protection. We will soon announce a new way to become involved with the NC King Tides project through water level monitoring stations; more on that to come. As always, a great way to help your community is sharing your pictures with us here at NC King Tides so that scientists and local planners can get a visual representation of what to prepare for.
Snap the shore see the future.