Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Virginia town faces 'dire straits' because of global warming predictions, says expert

David Macauley in the Daily News (Newport News, Virginia): Sobering evidence of how storms will have an increasingly devastating effect on the Peninsula as the century progresses is outlined in a new model by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. "This is an important issue for us to get moving on," Eric Walberg, physical and environmental planning administrator with the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, told the Hampton City Council last week.

The hydrodynamic model produced by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science predicts the impacts of future storms. The effects of Hurricane Isabel, a Category 1 storm, in 2003 are replicated given predicted sea level rises over the century. Much of eastern Hampton and Poquoson was flooded during Isabel. By 2085 much of the central Peninsula would be under water during an Isabel-type storm, according to the model. Toward the end of the century, a Category 1 storm would have the same effect as a Category 2 storm does with today's sea level, he said.

"There's a couple of important take-home messages," Walberg said. "Over time moderate storm events like Isabel or the recent nor'easter will create flooding that's more severe. The other thing," he said, "and this is the truly troubling point in my mind, is over time were going to become more vulnerable to catastrophic flooding from a larger storm. We are going to reach the point where a strong Category 1 or Category 2 storm could really create a difficult issue."

Walberg also referred to the Virginia Governor's Commission on Climate Change that has spent two years examining the impact of issues such as global warming. "We can expect to see approximately 3 degrees Celsius increase in atmospheric temperature by the end of the century, approximately an 11 percent increase in precipitation and a sea level rise between two and three feet by the end of the century," he said.
"The sea level rise is most troubling for Hampton Roads and we are likely to see significant" impact on natural systems as well as buildings and infrastructure, Walberg said…..

Hampton Roads seen from space

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