Climate change re­port warns Caroli­nas

The News & Observer (Sunday) - - Triangle&n.c. - BY CHARLES DUN­CAN AND AB­BIE BEN­NETT cdun­[email protected]­clatchy.com aben­[email protected]­sob­server.com

Climate change will cause more heat waves, flood­ing and worse storm im­pacts, and change life for peo­ple in the Caroli­nas, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­cently re­leased by the White House.

Higher sea lev­els will bring more and worse coastal flood­ing, a warm­ing ocean will bring stronger storms, and ex­treme heat waves will be­come longer and more fre­quent in the South­east, the Fourth Na­tional Climate As­sess­ment pre­dicts.

The re­port lays out dire warn­ings for the Caroli­nas and the na­tion on the com­ing im­pacts from climate change.

“Through­out the south­east­ern United States, the im­pacts of sea level rise, in­creas­ing tem­per­a­tures, ex­treme heat events, heavy pre­cip­i­ta­tion, and de­creased wa­ter avail­abil­ity con­tinue to have nu­mer­ous con­se­quences for hu­man health, the built en­vi­ron­ment, and the nat­u­ral world,” the re­port states.

Some ar­eas could see a lot more rain, oth­ers could see a lot less, the re­port notes.

“The decade of the 2010s through 2017 has been warmer than any pre­vi­ous decade,” the re­port says, and the re­port’s au­thors ex­pect that trend to con­tinue. The re­port, led by the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra- tion, in­cludes con­tri­bu­tions about the South­east from aca­demics at the Univer­sity of South Carolina and N.C. State Univer­sity.

The re­port notes, “In the com­ing decades and cen­turies, climate change will con­tinue to trans­form many ecosys­tems through­out the South­east.”

The Con­gress-man­dated re­port, The New York Times ex­plains, “is no­table not only for the pre­ci­sion of its cal­cu­la­tions and blunt­ness of its con­clu­sions, but also be­cause its find­ings are di­rectly at odds with Pres­i­dent Trump’s agenda of en­vi­ron­men­tal dereg­u­la­tion, which he as­serts will spur eco­nomic growth.”

The re­port is from the U.S. Global Change Re­search Pro­gram, which in­cludes 13 fed­eral agen­cies, and in­cluded help

from 1,000 peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to CNN. About half of the sci­en­tists in­volved in the re­port are from out­side gov­ern­ment, CNN re­ports. Some of the sci­en­tists are based in the Caroli­nas and at Carolina univer­si­ties, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

EX­PECT WORSE FLOOD­ING

The flood­ing from big storms and ris­ing tides will con­tinue to in­crease, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

“The num­ber of ex­treme rain­fall events is in­creas­ing,” the re­port ex­plains, with the num­ber of days the re­gion has seen at least three inches of rain per year at his­toric highs.

The Caroli­nas have seen his­toric floods from hur­ri­canes Matthew and Florence, and the re­port notes that ris­ing ocean tem­per­a­tures and higher sea lev­els will make strong storms and flood­ing more com­mon.

Across the South­east, the re­port states, “2017 tied the pre­vi­ous record year of 2011 for the to­tal num­ber of bil­lion-dol­lar weather and climate dis­as­ters.” The year’s cli­matere­lated dam­ages hit $306.2 bil­lion, break­ing the record.

Ad­justed for in­fla­tion, 2017 blew past the pre­vi­ous record set in 2005 with al­most $215 bil­lion in dam­ages, “which in­cluded the im­pacts of Hur­ri­canes Den­nis, Ka­t­rina, Rita, and Wilma” among other nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, the re­port states.

In ad­di­tion to the rain, the climate re­port ex­plains, “Higher sea lev­els will cause the storm surges from trop­i­cal storms to travel far­ther in­land than in the past, im­pact­ing more coastal prop­er­ties.

The com­bined im­pacts of sea level rise and storm surge in the South­east have the po­ten­tial to cost up to $60 bil­lion each year in 2050.”

Coastal flood­ing from higher tides will be­come more of a prob­lem too, the re­port’s au­thors note. “Flood events in Charleston, South Carolina, have been in­creas­ing, and by 2045 the city is pro­jected to face nearly 180 tidal floods (flood­ing in coastal ar­eas at high tide) per year, as com­pared to 11 floods per year in 2014,” ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Just last month, Charleston saw one of the high­est tides ever recorded, ac­cord­ing to the Post and Courier. The tide hit 8.76 feet Satur­day, flood­ing roads and low-ly­ing ar­eas around the city, the news­pa­per re­ported.

Sea lev­els are ex­pected to in­crease by one half to 1.2 feet by 2050, and from one to 4.3 feet by 2100, the re­port pre­dicts, with coastal flood­ing from king tides be­com­ing more wide­spread and dis­rup­tive to cities like Charleston and Wilmington, N.C.

In­fra­struc­ture is also at risk across the Caroli­nas as rain and sub­se­quent flood­ing wors­ens, and bridges could be in the most dan­ger.

“By 2050, the South­east is the re­gion ex­pected to have the most vul­ner­a­ble bridges,” the re­port says.

LONGER HEAT WAVES

The South­east is see­ing worse in­creases in heat waves than any other re­gion in the coun­try, the re­port notes.

“Cities across the South­east are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing more and longer sum­mer heat waves,” the re­port states. There are five large cities in the U.S. with trends above the na­tional av­er­age for heat waves, and one of them is Raleigh. Two oth­ers are also in the South­east: Birm­ing­ham and New Or­leans.

“Sixty-one per­cent of ma­jor South­east cities are ex­hibit­ing some as­pects of wors­en­ing heat waves, which is a higher per­cent­age than any other re­gion of the coun­try,” the au­thors note in the re­port. “South­east­ern cities in­clud­ing Mem­phis and Raleigh have a par­tic­u­larly high fu­ture heat risk.”

Heat waves also threat­ened ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, with heat-re­lated ill­nesses for peo­ple who work out­side, and im­pacts on live­stock and crop pro­duc­tion, the re­port notes.

JA­SON LEE [email protected]­sun­news.com

The groups help­ing out at the Tyler house are be­ing co­or­di­nated by the lo­cal VOAD. Todd Wood, with Im­pact Min­istries, made sure that the crews work­ing had the sup­plies and train­ing they needed. Oc­to­ber 1 2018.

NOAA

Sea level rise pre­dic­tions for Charleston, South Carolina vary, but av­er­age out to be about one foot in the next 50 years.

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