State must act quickly to counter expected sea level rise, VIMS researcher says

by Bill Nachman - Posted on Feb 06, 2013 - 12:24 PM

Photo: IMS researcher Molly Mitchell spoke last week on possible ways to counter expected sea level rise in Virginia. Photo by Bill Nachman

IMS researcher Molly Mitchell spoke last week on possible ways to counter expected sea level rise in Virginia. Photo by Bill Nachman

A research panel has recommended that Virginia take steps to buffer expected rising seas, with levels expected to rise along the state’s coast at least 1½ feet by century’s end. Levees, tide gates and other options are pricey.

Molly Mitchell, a researcher at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science who served on the panel that developed the study at the behest of the General Assembly, said during an after-hours lecture last Thursday night at the Gloucester Point campus that the state or perhaps individual localities must address the varied effects from recurrent coastal flooding.

The panel, which included professionals from VIMS and Old Dominion University, described in detail some of the projections made for recurrent coastal flooding. There are different scenarios, Mitchell said, which could find sea level rise in the region well above the 1½ foot increase.

Sea level rise is caused by many factors, Mitchell said, including carbon emissions, ice cap melting, and changes in precipitation patterns.

In response to the General Assembly’s charge, she said the panel searched various databases to gather information within a short timeframe.