Coastal Communities on U.S. East Coast Face Growing Subsidence-Related Hazards
New research sheds light on the heightened vulnerability of coastal communities along the U.S. East Coast to a range of hazards linked to land subsidence, the sinking of the Earth's surface due to removal or displacement of subsurface earth materials.
The research, utilizing advanced radar datasets to assess vertical land motion rates, demonstrates the significant exposure of densely populated areas and critical infrastructure to subsidence risks, which include amplifying coastal flood risk, de-stabilizing building foundations, and damaging transportation infrastructure.
The study, which focused on coastal communities of the East Coast, including high-density regions like New York, Baltimore, and Norfolk, found that an extensive land area—between 2,000 to 74,000 square kilometers—is susceptible to subsidence rates ranging from 1 to 2 millimeters per year. This subsidence affects 1.2 to 14 million people and more than half of all crucial infrastructure in major cities along the eastern seaboard.
The study provides important quantitative data for coastal disaster resilience planning that could support proactive hazard mitigation strategies in the face of climate change. The observed subsidence trend underscores the need for a targeted and forward-thinking approach to ensure the resilience of communities and critical infrastructure along the U.S. East Coast.
The findings of this study offer a crucial foundation for policymakers, urban planners, and emergency response teams to develop strategies that enhance the resilience of coastal communities in the face of subsidence-related hazards, which will amplify the impacts of climate change on coastal communities.
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