East Coast communities threatened by tidal flooding, sea level rise

By 2045, the report's authors say, the nation's capital will witness 400 floods per year.
By Brooks Hays  |  Oct. 8, 2014 at 11:27 AM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- If sea levels continue to rise, tidal flooding will become more frequent and devastating in its effects -- from occasional to chronic, in the words of the latest report on the subject by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Tidal flooding is the flooding caused by high tides, the rising water levels pulled ashore by the gravity of the moon and sun. When tidal flooding occurs today, it typically happens during extremely high tides, which happen twice monthly during full and new moons. But according to the latest report, tidal flooding is likely to become a daily occurrence for some East Coast cities.

By 2045, the report's authors say, both the nation's capital, Washington, and Maryland's capital, Annapolis, will witness 400 floods per year. Other iconic East Coast cities will be flooded a bit less, but still more often than is typical today. Baltimore, Norfolk, Philadelphia, and Charleston will all enjoy some 180 high-tide floods.

The report warns that tidal flooding isn't just a thing of the future. High-tide floods have already been on the rise for several decades. The report fingered a number of communities where high-tide flooding rates have quadrupled since 1970. Over the last century, the Union of Concern Scientists warns, the East Coast has witnessed an eight-inch rise in sea levels. Some places have seen levels rise twice as much. The major culprit, of course, is manmade climate change -- rising seas the product of melting ice caps.

Some cities are already taking the warning seriously, adapting their coastlines for the realities of rising seas. But the latest report urges the federal government to take stronger action, arguing localities can't do all that's necessary on their own. More than just flood-proofing houses and improving levees, the report's authors say the only real solution is curb the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

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