Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How will sea level rise affect local communities?

Dan Wiessner in Scarsdale Patch: Larchmont is practically underwater. Not the upscale Sound Shore community; this Larchmont is a middle-class neighborhood in Norfolk, VA that's surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay and the mouths of several rivers.

Much of the area is under constant threat of inundation, as the surrounding waters have risen by 14.5 inches since 1930—the highest relative increase in sea level of anywhere on the East Coast. A recent New York Times article called Larchmont "the front line" in the battle against rising waters and detailed the tribulations of local residents and the multi-million dollar projects that may or may not produce a solution.

But how far off is this headache for Westchester's Larchmont and other communities along the Sound and the Hudson River? What does it mean for residents? The potential consequences could affect local utilities, regional commuters, waterfront businesses and local property owners.

"It could happen next summer," said Kristin Marcell, a member of the State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) Hudson River Estuary program, referring specifically to a once-in-a-generation storm that, coupled with rising waters, could wreak havoc on waterfront developments, including homes, roads, train tracks and recreation areas.

…New York Harbor has seen a 15-inch increase since 1860 and a 6-inch rise since 1960, according to the DEC, and the story is the same for the Long Island Sound, where consequences could be grave for the low-lying communities that make up the Sound's 600 miles of coastline.

A new report from the DEC's Sea Level Rise Task Force says the increase in the lower Hudson Valley could be as much as five inches in the next decade and 23 inches by 2100; but, in the case of a scenario called rapid ice melt, in which polar ice caps recede at an alarming rate, area waters could rise by as much as five feet by century's end….

New York harbor, downstream from one of the Larchmonts

No comments: