Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Long-Term Sea Level Rise in Washington, D.C. Could Have Significant Impact

The nation’s capital is likely to face flooding and infrastructure damage in both the short- and long-term brought about by sea level rise (SLR), current trends and predicted increases suggest.

The rise is linked to thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of global ice sheets as a result of global warming, researchers say in a new study focused on real-estate property and government infrastructure impacts in Washington, D.C.

Short-term predictions suggest that sea level will rise 0.1 meters by the year 2043 and flood about 103 properties and other infrastructure, costing the city about $2.1 billion. By 2150, 0.4 meters of SLR is likely to impact 142 properties. For long-term effects if sea level rise were to reach 5.0 meters, the authors warn of significant damages in excess of $24.6 billion to commercial buildings, military installations, museums and a number of government agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department, the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Education.

While a rise of 5.0 meters is considered unlikely, recent weather events such as Tropical Storm Isabel in 2003 and high tides and rains in April of 2011 triggered waterfront flooding in the city and Northern Virginia. The authors warn that extreme weather may increase the chances of flooding as sea levels increase.

The study, by University of Maryland researchers, examines its results in comparison with a set of models generated by authoritative international bodies and experts. Researchers Bilal Ayyub, Haralamb G. Braileanu and Naeem Qureshi of the Center for Technology and Systems Management of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the College Park campus of the University of Maryland published the paper. The article, entitled “Prediction and Impact of Sea Level Rise on Properties and Infrastructure of Washington, DC,” appears in the November 2012 issue of Risk Analysis, published by the Society for Risk Analysis.

The research relies on an unrealistically optimistic model in which SLR increases in a straight line consistent with recent trends. Other studies suggest the pattern shows increasing rates of SLR leading to, for example, a one meter SLR by the year 2100 compared with the 0.4 meter SLR rise employed in this analysis. Thus, the authors say their approach may underestimate the city’s SLR in the future.

To fully assess the potential damage, the researchers used Geographic Information System (GIS) tools and data from government agencies as well as real-estate listings for property values. The results show that the current rate of SLR in Washington, D.C., is about 3.16 millimeters per year and that at the low levels of increase expected in the near future, SLR would lead to a minimal loss of city area. But if 0.1 meters of SLR occurs by 2043 as the authors expect, nearby Bolling Air Force Base would lose 23 buildings.

With dramatic SLR increases over the long term, predictions suggest that billions of dollars in damage would result. Above 2.5 meters of SLR, the authors write, the “numbers become staggering. . . 302 properties are affected, costing $6.1 billion, finally at 5.0 meters of SLR, the numbers increase to a dramatic 1,225 properties and at least $24.6 billion” in damage. They add that these monetary estimates focus on real-estate property values and exclude additional damage valuations to water and sewer systems and other infrastructure, as well as to federal and industrial facilities, which they say should be included.

The authors conclude, “Decisions must be made in the near future by lawmakers or city planners on how to reduce the impact of and adapt to SLR. A planned retreat is not an option when dealing with SLR in such an important area. . . A short-term solution, like creating a small flood barrier, may give the city time to examine this challenge and produce cost-effective solutions. Cost-effective methods to deal with SLR should be developed, and long-term solutions that extend well into this millennium are necessary.”

Risk Analysis: An International Journal is published by the nonprofit Society for Risk Analysis (SRA). SRA is a multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, scholarly, international society that provides an open forum for all those who are interested in risk analysis. Risk analysis is defined broadly to include risk assessment, risk characterization, risk communication, risk management, and policy relating to risk, in the context of risks of concern to individuals, to public and private sector organizations, and to society at a local, regional, national, or global level.

Contact: Steve Gibb, 202.422.5425 to arrange an interview with the authors.

Note to editors: This study is available upon request from Steve Gibb or here:

Steve Gibb | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk
20.10.2016 | European Geosciences Union

nachricht UM researchers study vast carbon residue of ocean life
19.10.2016 | University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>