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Planning for Rising Sea Levels

Posted March 23, 2014 9:45 a.m. EDT

Coastal cities around the world, including those in states like North Carolina, are facing a tough civic planning problem as they consider how rising sea levels will affect the quality of life for residents. While they need to plan for an increase in height, they're missing a key piece of the puzzle: how high the waters will get in the future. Without this information, it's extremely difficult to make bridges, roads, buildings, and other structures ready for the predicted increase in sea levels associated with global climate change.

The level of retrofitting and work involved is quite different when you're talking, for example, eight inches more water compared with almost 40, along with heavy storms and other harsh weather. Science is trying to keep pace with developments in the global climate so researchers can provide accurate and helpful estimates to city planners, but it can be an uphill challenge in a world where the world's weather is turning so unpredictable. Meanwhile, building professions like Charlotte concrete experts have their hands tied, as they can't start on retrofitting projects until they know what they need to do -- especially for those gorgeous beachfront houses that have stunning views now, but could be disasters later.

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