Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Hampshire experts express concern for rising sea levels, lack of planning

Christa Marshall in Driving past an undulating sea wall on New Hampshire's coast, Steve Miller pointed at the blue ocean and said the placid waters were deceptively calm. During winter storms now, the ocean gets busier than it has gotten in the past. Sometimes it flings baseball-sized rocks over the barrier onto the road, he said. Just across the road are miles of mansions with their manicured lawns and gazebos. Because of its high property values and the tourism dollars it attracts, the stretch is known as the Gold Coast.

As the climate warms and the sea level rises, though, the Gold Coast could quickly become an expensive problem. Farther north, Miller turned onto a causeway connecting the city of Portsmouth with the island community of New Castle. The bridge artery is a few feet above the water line on a sunny day, but looks like a floating strip of highway during heavy rains and recent high "king tides."

"Imagine if you add climate change and storm surges to the situation," said Miller, a coastal training program coordinator at the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve who spoke as a private citizen for this article.

"I worry about a day when this entire bridge will be underwater," said Miller, passing floating buoys. "It's the only way in and out. If someone had a heart attack on the island, how would we get them out of here, and who would pay for it?"...

Sailboat crosses under the lift span of Portsmouth's Memorial Bridge, shot by JayDuck, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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