Study: Sea level rise poses significant economic toll to Hampton Roads

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WVEC) -- The economic toll of sea level rise, over time, could be significant in Hampton Roads, according to a new study.

The study, 'Costs of Doing Nothing,' was commissioned by the Virginia Coastal Policy Center at William & Mary Law School. It projects that, if adaptive measures are not taken, the annual flood damages and economic impacts from coastal storms could triple by the year 2060.

“It is our hope that the findings of this important study will help to educate members of the public and elected officials on the economic risks that sea level rise presents to the future sustainability of the Hampton Roads region,” said Elizabeth Andrews, director of the Virginia Coastal Policy Center.

The report was authored by the research institute, RTI International.

George Van Houtven, senior researcher for RTI, said the organization relied on two potential sea level rise scenarios:

  • Scenario 1- Water levels rise by 0.5 meters (predicted by the year 2040)
     
  • Scenario 2- Water levels rise by 0.75 meters (predicted by the year 2060)

RTI selected these scenarios based on research and predictions from William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Researchers concluded that if no protective efforts are made sea level rise will substantially increase the expected cost of coastal flood damages to the region’s homes in any given year from $12 million with no sea level rise to about $50 million with a sea level rise of .5 meters (by the year 2040) and over $100 million annually with a sea level rise of .75 meters (by the year 2060). 

“We are hopeful that this study will serve as an important step in developing a firm understanding of how a community can benefit from adaptation, " said Houtven.

To view the full study, visit the College of William & Mary's website.


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