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3/21/2014 - Researchers say sea-level rise guaranteed to affect flooding


This past year was one of the least-active hurricane seasons in recent memory, with only 13 named storms forming, two of which became hurricanes.

A new study suggests that the climatological and scientific world may not be taking sea level rise as seriously as it ought to when it comes to how it may affect homeowners who live in coastal areas.

Researchers from Virginia Tech University recently reviewed 100 analyses that examined how sea levels have risen over the past several years, concluding that regardless of hurricane activity - one of the weather phenomenons that has an impact on the speed which waters elevate - property damage and flood insurance claims are almost assuredly going to happen with greater frequency. What remains a mystery is where along the Atlantic and Northern Pacific this will happen with the most ferocity.

"The potential for sea-level rise to dramatically change the landscape is an understudied aspect of coastal flooding," said Jennifer Irish, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech's College of Engineering. "For example, shoreline erosion, barrier-island degradation, and new tidal inlet formation - these sedimentary changes could lead to catastrophic changes in hurricane flood risk in some areas."

If history is any guide, the most likely destination for substantial sea-level rise is the North Atlantic. Virginia Tech researchers noted that over the past 40-plus years, roughly 60% of all economic losses resulting from weather disaster have occurred in this portion of the country, based on data from the International Disaster Database of the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. This is despite the fact that it's been one of the least-active regions for hurricanes.

This past year was one of the quietest hurricane seasons in recent memory, with only 13 named storms forming, two of which became hurricanes. Neither Ingrid or Humberto, though, achieved major status, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines as producing sustained winds of at least 111 mph.


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