US military bases along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico will be increasingly vulnerable to floods and power-packed storms as the planet warms, researchers said, on Wednesday.
The report by the Union of Concerned Scientists spanned 18 military bases, and found that many risk losing land and strategic assets in the coming decades due to sea level rise.
“By 2050, most of these sites will see more than 10 times the number of floods they experience today,” said lead analyst Kristy Dahl, UCS consulting scientist and report co-author.
“In 2070, all but a few are projected to see flooding once or twice every day. Shockingly, these aren’t even the worst-case scenarios.”
The analysis was based on two different projections of sea level rise and how it may affect US bases from Florida to Maine.
The first, “intermediate” assessment “assumes a moderate rate of ice sheet melt that increases over time and projects an ultimate rise of 3.7 feet above 2012 levels, globally, by the end of this century,” said the report.
The other scenario, assumed a “more rapid ice sheet loss and projects an ultimate rise of 6.3 feet above 2012 levels” across the planet by the year 2100.
Scientists say global sea level has already risen about eight inches since 1880, and that the US East and Gulf Coasts are seeing some of the fastest rates of sea level rise, in part because the land there is also sinking.
Even though US military bases have been built out of reach of high tides, this means that as oceans swell, flooding will become more common and storm surges more devastating to bases, which are home to strategic training and testing grounds, infrastructure and housing, the study said.
When it comes to land loss due to daily floods, the most severely affected installations are expected to be Naval Air Station Key West in Florida, Joint Base Langley-Eustis and NAS Oceana Dam Neck in Virginia, and Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) on Parris Island in South Carolina, said the report.
“These military installations lose between 75 and 95 percent of their land area, including utilized land and developed areas, by the end of the century in the highest scenario.”
By the year 2100, “nearly half of the sites studied lose 25 per cent or more of their land area to the sea in the intermediate scenario and lose 50 per cent or more in the highest scenario,” said the report.