Military installations prepare for tidal flooding, climate change

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Naval Academy, the Washington Navy Yard and Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling are among 18 military installations that could experience dramatic increases in tidal flooding by the year 2050 because of rising sea levels caused by climate change, according to an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The study “The U.S. Military on the Front Lines of Rising Seas,” points out that the Naval Academy and Anacostia-Bolling are already subject to frequent minor tidal flooding which does not pose a risk to people or property.

“But as sea levels rise, our results show that those floods are going to become much more frequent and they’re also going to become much more extensive,” said Kristina Dahl, climate scientist and lead analyst of the study.

The study warns that if preventive measures are not taken to reverse climate change, the Annapolis waterfront and parts of the Naval Academy which currently experience tidal flooding about 50 times a year could have 400 tidal floods per year by 2050.

At Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, the study forecasts that the Naval Support Facility, the northern half of the base, currently has more than 40 floods per year during extra-high tides. That number could jump to as many as 610 floods per year by 2050, taking away extensive amounts of land.

Washington Navy Yard is located on a “hotspot” for sea level rise, according to the study. While the base currently does not experience flooding during high tides, the study says that will change by 2100 if climate change is not addressed. The study says 30 percent of the base’s land area could become part of the tidal zone and 10 percent could experience flooding during extra-high tides.

NASA says heat-trapping carbon dioxide and other gases, so-called greenhouse gases, are warming the planet and global sea levels rose about 6.7 inches in the last century.

“Sea level rise is an insidious problem. It happens slowly and gradually over time,” Dahl said.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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