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Report: Massachusetts Economy Headed “Underwater?”

PHOTO: Coastal storm damage, such as in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, will be more frequent as sea levels rise through the century in the Northeast, according to a new report. Photo courtesy Risky Business Project.
PHOTO: Coastal storm damage, such as in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, will be more frequent as sea levels rise through the century in the Northeast, according to a new report. Photo courtesy Risky Business Project.
June 30, 2014

BOSTON - The Northeast is expected to experience a temperature increase over the next century. But a new study identified rising oceans, and their effect on coastal infrastructure, as the major coming climate impact to the region.

The report, from the Risky Business Project, concluded that Boston will likely experience a rise in sea levels of 2-4 feet by the year 2100. Sea coast levels are critical to the Northeastern economy, affecting everything from fisheries to major port cities.

Matt Lewis, communications director for the project, said Hurricane Andrew and Superstorm Sandy were wake-up calls for both the insurance industry and real estate market.

"There's quite a bit of property along the Atlantic coast that's at risk in the next 20 years," said Lewis. "A significant amount of property that will slowly go below sea level. But, keep in mind that storm surge comes on top of whatever sea level rise you have."

According to the report, inaction on sea level rise will add billions of dollars to annual property losses from hurricanes and other coastal storms over the next century.

Lewis said temperatures in the Northeast will rise, but with less impact than increases in other regions.

He pointed out that extreme heat also affects energy system performance.

"When the rivers and water that's available to cool generation facilities get too hot, you can no longer run it through the cooling tower," explained Lewis. "You affect energy system reliability."

Read the report The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States, from the Risky Business Project.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - MA