A new Union of Concerned Scientists study evaluated the risks of climate-induced inundation at a sample of 18 military bases on the East and Gulf of Mexico coasts. Five are in the Bay’s tidal regions.Well, here's your first problem. The Union of Concerned Scientists have been a reliable purveyor of propaganda and an unreliable source of science since the '60s when they set out on their crusade to unilaterally disarm the United States nuclear program in the midst of the Cold War.
Naval Station Norfolk, the largest such base in the world, faces not only rising seas but subsiding land. A nearby air and army installation, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, is also slowly sinking.Here's the truth of sea level rise in the Chesapeake Bay region. Right around 3 mm per year (including settling), with evidence for an increase in the rate in the "warming" (post 1950s) era. To get to 1.4 - 2 feet by 2050 would require a nearly catastrophic increase, that no real mechanism exists to provide.
Between shifts in land and sea, the naval base at Hampton Roads could experience rising waters of as much as two feet by 2050 and 6.9 feet by 2100, the union projects. And in a category 1 hurricane, the weakest, the storm surge could wash over a quarter of the base by 2050, up from roughly a tenth today, according to the study.
UCS used the mid-range and highest sea level rise projections of the 2014 National Climate Assessment and projected the impact of storm surge using a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration computer model.
The report suggests that the Pentagon ought to be preparing its installations to deal with the highest sea level rise projections because risk reduction is a top priority for military assets.
A Navy official said the service is responding. Brian Ballard, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic community plans liaison, said Naval Station Norfolk is raising the height of existing piers and retrofitting them with double decks, to make it easier to access utilities and reduce damage inflicted during “heavy weather.”
The Navy is incorporating climate change impacts in all its installation master plans, Ballard said, and the Defense Department is updating its building codes for new construction and renovation to reflect the risks.
However, the Pentagon’s sea level rise projections are significantly lower than those in the UCS study. The DoD forecasts rising seas ranging between one-quarter inch and one inch by 2050 at Naval Station Norfolk. Ballard declined to comment on the UCS projection that sea level could rise 1.4 feet to 2.0 feet by 2050.
That difference notwithstanding, Naval Station Norfolk does have tidal gates and other protections against storms that UCS did not factor into its study. For the longer term, Ballard said the Navy is not planning to install massive sea walls and gates akin to those used in the Netherlands, but has not ruled out any protective measure. The potential cost of adaptations cannot be estimated today, but whatever the enormous investment, it could be spread over time as infrastructure is repaired and rebuilt, Ballard noted.And the answer, if it occurs, is relatively simple. Raise the level of the land by adding fill. and raise the buildings. For runways, ordinary repaving probably matches sea level rise. Look what's occurred with Manhattan Island since it was settled by Europeans. Despite rising sea level, Manhattan has continued to expand. People will protect land that is valuable to them.