A tidal gauge just off Tybee's western edge shows that the Atlantic Ocean has risen, on average, an inch every decade since 1935. Since the 1990s, though, the degree of sea-level rise has tripled, according to the nearby Skidaway Institute of Oceanography.
U.S. 80 is the only road on and off Tybee and it floods, in spots, about a half-dozen times a year, usually during spring high, or “king, ” tides. By 2060, according to Georgia scientists, the road is expected to flood 50 times a year due to climate change and its impact on sea levels.
Two-thirds of the island could be under water within a century if current predictions of sea-level rise prove true, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The report, by Stetson University, the University of Georgia's Marine Extension Service and Georgia Sea Grant, recommends replacing portions of U.S. 80 and implementing other municipal measures to combat rising seas. State transportation officials are considering a $100 million upgrade to flood-proof the only road onto Tybee.
“Both in leadership and risk, Tybee Island is at the front lines of sea-level rise adaptation,” said Jason Evans, an assistant professor of environmental science at Stetson University.