Government Reports Warn Planners on Sea-Rise Threat to U.S. Coasts

Sea level rise and other changes fueled by global warming threaten roads, rail lines, ports, airports and other important infrastructure, according to new government reports, and policy makers and planners should be acting now to avoid or mitigate their effects.

While increased heat and “intense precipitation events” threaten these structures, the greatest and most immediate potential impact is coastal flooding, according to one of the reports, by an expert panel convened by the National Research Council, the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences. Another study, a multiagency effort led by the Environmental Protection Agency, sounds a similar warning on coastal infrastructure but adds that natural features like beaches, wetlands and fresh water supplies are also threatened by encroaching salt water.

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