An idea for surviving future storms: Raise coast

Associated Press Modified: November 22, 2012 at 10:30 am •  Published: November 22, 2012
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Using SIRGE, the sediment would likely need to be projected 300 or more feet below the surface. The paper suggests that, in theory, at the upper end, it might be possible to raise the coast 10 meters, about 33 feet.

"From what the people who work on these issues are saying we should expect higher sea levels and larger intensity storms," Murdoch said. "If that is the case, then the problems we saw with Sandy are going to be more frequent."

The Southeastern Coastal Climate Network calculates that in the past 90 years, the sea level has risen a foot in Charleston. It's worse elsewhere. The U.S. Geological Survey reported last summer that in the 600-mile swath from Boston to Cape Hatteras, sea levels are rising much faster than in other areas around the globe. Since 1990, the sea level has risen almost 5 inches in Norfolk, Va.

Murdoch said that currently, building levees is the go-to technology for dealing with sea level rise. The problem, he said, is levees tend to fail. "In view of that, we need another technology," he said.

Both scientists agree there is an awful lot to be worked out in attempting to raise the ground level — everything from what it might cost to how it would be carried out.

"It seems like it would have an important place if it could be developed," Murdoch said. "We haven't seen any showstoppers yet. But we think society should pursue this to see if it's viable."

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Follow Bruce Smith at http://twitter.com/brucesmithap

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Online:

Study: http://rspa.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/466/2123/3225.full