Tags: Global Warming | What if Global Warming Continues | Climate Change | Gulf Coast | Rising Sea Levels

What If Global Warming Continues? 8 Most Dire Scenarios For America's Gulf Coast

By    |   Monday, 09 February 2015 12:49 PM

Climate change scientists believe that if global warming continues, rising temperatures pose a significant threat to America's coastlines and wetlands. Not only do global warming related extreme weather events affect these areas, many of them are home to thousands of fish species and wildlife, and their viability plays an important role in the economic health of regional economies.

Here are eight dire scenarios for America's Gulf Coast if global warming continues:

1. The Times-Picayune reports, "Ground-level portions of Louisiana Highway 1, the only access road to Port Fourchon and the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, will be flooded 300 days a year by 2050 because of sea level rise driven by climate change."

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2. Continued global warming will perpetuate the rise in sea levels from melting glaciers. This will lead to additional storm surge flooding in the Gulf Coast, which puts transportation infrastructure at risk. "This can disrupt travel and damage roads, highways, bridges, oil and gas operations, and other structures in coastal areas. The transportation network is particularly vulnerable since many roads in the Gulf Coast region of the Southeast are at an elevation of four feet or less," reports the Environmental Protection Agency.

3. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, "Global climate change driven by rising levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, will interact with, and magnify, other human stresses on Gulf Coast ecosystems and the goods and services they provide."

4. Increased rates of coastal erosion due to rising sea levels is reducing the first line of defense against storm surge activity. This puts the Gulf Coast at risk for increased damage from hurricanes, which are predicted to increase in intensity. "Anthropogenic warming by the end of the 21st century will likely cause hurricanes globally to be more intense on average (by 2 to 11 percent. according to model projections for an IPCC A1B scenario). This change would imply an even larger percentage increase in the destructive potential per storm, assuming no reduction in storm size," reports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

5. "More frequent or longer lasting droughts and reduced freshwater inflows could increase the incidence of extreme salt concentrations in coastal ecosystems, resulting in a decline of valuable habitats such as the mangroves and seagrasses in Florida Bay or South Texas lagoons," reports the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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6. The National Academy of Engineering has also studied the effects of continued global warming on transportation infrastructure. "A sea level rise of 2 to 4 feet along the Gulf Coast, which is well within the range of possibility over the next century, would inundate major portions of the coastline from Mobile to Houston, particularly in Louisiana and East Texas … To put this in perspective, a 4-foot rise would inundate 2,400 miles of roadway, 9 percent of rail lines, and 72 percent of ports in the region."

7. The economic costs and loss of life from increased hurricane intensity due to global warming is in the billions. "In recent years, hurricane damages have averaged $12 billion and more than 120 deaths per year. With business-as-usual emissions, average annual hurricane damages in 2100 will have grown by $422 billion and an astounding 760 deaths just from climate change impacts," according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

8. The city of Miami is particularly at risk from rising sea levels due to global warming. The New York Times explains, "Miami is exceptionally vulnerable because of its unique geology. The city is built on top of porous limestone, which is already allowing the rising seas to soak into the city's foundation, bubble up through pipes and drains, encroach on fresh water supplies and saturate infrastructure. County governments estimate that the damages could rise to billions or even trillions of dollars."

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Climate change scientists believe that if global warming continues, rising temperatures pose a significant threat to America's coastlines and wetlands.
What if Global Warming Continues, Climate Change, Gulf Coast, Rising Sea Levels
Monday, 09 February 2015 12:49 PM
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