Earthquakes and wildfires are probably the environmental hazards Californians worry about most. But by the end of the century, another threat may be keeping residents awake at night: rising sea levels.
Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey recently conducted a study that modeled the combined effect of sea-level rise and storms. The researchers considered various scenarios involving sea-level increases within the realm of possibility by the year 2100 and weather conditions ranging from an average day to a 100-year storm.
In the worst-case scenario, a 2-meter (6.6 foot) sea-level rise and a 100-year storm, $150 billion in coastal property could be flooded. A financial loss of that magnitude - equal to about 6 percent of California’s GDP - would make such an event far more costly than the state’s 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake ($10 billion in damage) and the 2017 wildfire season ($18 billion in losses and fire suppression expenses) and place it on par with Hurricane Katrina ($127 billion).
But with a 2-meter increase in sea level, even a typical annual storm could place 483,000 residents and $119 billion in property at risk.
“For those annual storms to expose $50 billion to more than $100 billion of property by end of century, that’s just a massive number, said Patrick Barnard, research director for the USGS Climate Impacts and Coastal Processes Team and the study’s lead author. “That’s something that could happen every single year, not just maybe once a mortgage or once a lifetime.” (LOS ANGELES TIMES)