Coastwide
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Opinion: Rapidly rising sea level and the future of our coasts

Humans have been adapting to changes in the environment for thousands of years. Probably since the beginning of time, we have roamed the Earth looking for the best place to settle based on our needs as farmers, herders, hunters or fishers.

Today, however, we face a challenge that is unprecedented in human history. Our fixed infrastructure, particularly our cities, are too large, too populous and too expensive to move in the face of accelerating sea-level rise. As a result, we need to come up with new ways to address the changes we see going on around us, including those forecasted in the short- and long-term.

As a result, we need to come up with new ways to address the changes we see going on around us, including those forecasted in the short- and long-term.

A new report by Climate Central presents the potential impacts due to flooding from projected sea-level rise on coastal communities around the world. This is based on its new digital elevation model called Portfolio Analysis Tool (PAT). The results are useful for planning, but even before it was released Boston and New York City had already taken actions to plan and mitigate sea-level rise impacts, and Florida recently appointed its first Chief Resilience Officer. Other coastal communities, large and small, would do well to follow those examples and consider the future presented in the Climate Central report.

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