Experts predict that the effects of climate change may have the greatest impact on low-lying, and often developing nations, but countries like the United States are not immune.
The low-lying city of Norfolk, Virginia, located at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, is not only susceptible to sea level rise, but is already experiencing it. Norfolk's longtime mayor, Paul Fraim, told PBS' Climate Desk that "There's no question that the problem's getting worse."
Although measurable sea level rise has occurred along the U.S. East Coast, "just over half" of Norfolk's roughly 14 inch sea level rise since 1930 is a result of sinking land, explains PBS. The combination of Norfolk's coastal presence and marshy soil has put Norfolk's sea level rise at "almost double the global rate."
Despite an awareness of the risks facing Norfolk, there is still room for improvement. A 2012 NRDC report placed Virginia among other states that are "largely unprepared and lagging behind" in water-related climate change preparedness. In fact, the Norfolk-Virginia Beach metropolitan area was ranked 10th in the world for risk of sea level rise, explained Examiner.com.
The New York Times reported in 2010 that the state's attorney general was embroiled in a fraud investigation of a "prominent climate scientist" and former University of Virginia researcher as residents of Norfolk and surrounding areas were experiencing greater tidal flooding. A 75-year-old resident told The New York Times that while tidal flooding was an occasional hazard 40 years ago, "there were eight or nine days the tide was so doggone high it was difficult to drive" in October 2010.
PBS' Climate Desk notes that almost four million Americans "now live in coastal communities that could see increased flooding caused by sea-level rise," according to research from Climate Central. Climate Central's Ben Strauss was among several who testified on sea level rise before the Senate's Energy & Natural Resources Committee last week.