Rising seas to impact Georgia military bases

Coastal military bases in Georgia are threatened by rising seas prompted by climate change, according to a report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, home to nuclear-powered submarines, is in particular danger from tidal flooding, hurricanes and storm surges. The base near St. Marys will experience at least 55 flood events annually by mid-century – up from just a few floods currently – if the Atlantic Ocean rises 1.1 feet, as expected.

If it rises 1.7 feet, a real possibility, the base could be inundated 170 times a year.

“We’re now at the front end of the changes that will occur, with some installations already dealing with flooding during extreme high tides,” said Erika Spanger-Siegfried, a senior analyst with the Massachusetts-based nonprofit research group. “Depending on how fast sea level rises in the second half of this century, tidal flooding will become a daily occurrence in some areas. (But) this also depends on how bases respond and whether they have the resources to adapt.”

A spokesman with the Office of the Secretary of Defense couldn’t be reached for comment.

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A changing climate causes temperatures to rise, heating oceans, melting ice bergs and, consequently, pushing water further inland. A number of scientific studies in recent years have predicted a three-to-six foot ocean surge along the East Coast.

The Union analyzed sea level rise projections at 18 East and Gulf coast military installations at risk of losing training grounds, buildings and housing.

By 2050, the low-lying areas in and around Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah would experience roughly 150 flood events by mid-century – up from 10 events per year today, the report says. By 2100, flood-prone areas would be under water at least 40 percent of the time.

You can read the report here.

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