View looking west along the New Jersey shore. Storm waves and surge cut across the barrier island, eroding a wide beach, destroying houses and roads, and depositing sand onto the island and into the back-bay. The yellow arrow in each image points to the same feature. Credit: Image courtesy of United States Geological Survey
WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Climate change will continue to threaten the health and vitality of U.S. coastal communities' social, economic and natural systems, researchers say.
The report, authored by leading scientists and experts, emphasizes all U.S. coasts are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change such as sea-level rise, erosion, storms and flooding.
The threat is especially strong in the more populated low-lying parts of the U.S. coast along the Gulf of Mexico, Mid-Atlantic, northern Alaska, Hawaii and island territories, the report said.
The impact of Hurricane Sandy was a central part of the study that generated the report.
"Sandy showed us that coastal states and communities need effective strategies, tools and resources to conserve, protect, and restore coastal habitats and economies at risk from current environmental stresses and a changing climate," report lead author Margaret A. Davidson of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration said.
Ongoing climate change will only increase the threats to U.S. coastlines, the researchers said.
"An increase in the intensity of extreme weather events such as storms like Sandy and Katrina, coupled with sea-level rise and the effects of increased human development along the coasts, could affect the sustainability of many existing coastal communities and natural resources," said Virginia Burkett of the U.S. Geological Survey, co-lead author of the report.