Bracing for Delaware’s sea level rise

    Delaware’s environment secretary has called for a new planning policy that takes into account sea level rise from global climate change.

    Delaware’s environment secretary has issued a new policy for planning any projects near the shore. Designs must take into account climate change predictions of a rise in sea level that may swamp the current coastline. From WHYY’s health and science desk, Kerry Grens reports.

    The ocean is slowly creeping up Delaware’s shore, due to a warming climate. At the same time, Delaware’s landmass has been sliding back into the sea since the last ice age.

    Dan Leathers, the state climatologist at the University of Delaware, says in 100 years, those minor moves could lead to a sea level rise of several inches to more than a foot, and an increased risk for flooding.

    Staff at the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is developing a Sea Level Adaptation Plan to help direct any future construction or restoration projects, says the Department’s secretary, Colin O’Mara.

    O’Mara: As we’re entering this new climate reality we want to make sure we have the best science and data driving our decision making. So when we make investments in our parks and in out different public lands that we’re planning for 30, 40, 50 years out.

    O’Mara says the new policy may affect how close to the water the Department builds structures, or whether roads need to be elevated.
    Leathers says planning ahead is a good idea.

    Leathers:
    For instance if the parks department would build a new building that right now is real close to having problems during coastal flooding events you can be almost sure that over the next 20 or 30 years that building’s going to be in real danger.

    The Sea Level Policy will be completed in about one year.

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