Joint effects of storm surge and sea-level rise on US Coasts: new economic estimates of impacts, adaptation, and benefits of mitigation policy
Author(s)Neumann, James E.; Ravela, Sai; Ludwig, Lindsay; Kirshen, P. H.; Bosma, Kirk; Martinich, Jeremy; Emanuel, Kerry Andrew; ... Show more Show less
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Recent literature, the US Global Change Research Program’s National Climate Assessment, and recent events, such as Hurricane Sandy, highlight the need to take better account of both storm surge and sea-level rise (SLR) in assessing coastal risks of climate change. This study combines three models—a tropical cyclone simulation model; a storm surge model; and a model for economic impact and adaptation—to estimate the joint effects of storm surge and SLR for the US coast through 2100. The model is tested using multiple SLR scenarios, including those incorporating estimates of dynamic ice-sheet melting, two global greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation policy scenarios, and multiple general circulation model climate sensitivities. The results illustrate that a large area of coastal land and property is at risk of damage from storm surge today; that land area and economic value at risk expands over time as seas rise and as storms become more intense; that adaptation is a cost-effective response to this risk, but residual impacts remain after adaptation measures are in place; that incorporating site-specific episodic storm surge increases national damage estimates by a factor of two relative to SLR-only estimates, with greater impact on the East and Gulf coasts; and that mitigation of GHGs contributes to significant lessening of damages. For a mid-range climate-sensitivity scenario that incorporates dynamic ice sheet melting, the approach yields national estimates of the impacts of storm surge and SLR of $990 billion through 2100 (net of adaptation, cumulative undiscounted 2005$); GHG mitigation policy reduces the impacts of the mid-range climate-sensitivity estimates by $84 to $100 billion.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Neumann, James E., Kerry Emanuel, Sai Ravela, Lindsay Ludwig, Paul Kirshen, Kirk Bosma, and Jeremy Martinich. “Joint Effects of Storm Surge and Sea-Level Rise on US Coasts: New Economic Estimates of Impacts, Adaptation, and Benefits of Mitigation Policy.” Climatic Change 129, no. 1–2 (December 14, 2014): 337–349.
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