Fighting the flood: NOAA specialist talks steps, strategies to battle sea rise

Drake Street was closed in October as flood waters as flood waters swallowed roadways in Charleston.

An new study in the journal Nature indicates seas might rise 6 feet by the century’s end — twice as high as previously predicted. It makes for a worrisome future for the flood-prone Lowcountry.

On Thursday, a federal coastal hazards specialist tries to sort it out.

Doug Marcy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office for Coastal Management in North Charleston is scheduled to speak to the Robert Lunz Group of the state chapter of the Sierra Club at 7 p.m. in the Medical University of South Carolina’s Baruch Auditorium, 284 Calhoun St.

The meeting is open to the public and free, said Laura Moses of the Robert Luntz Group.

Marcy is part of a team that has developed a sea-rise flooding forecast model accurate to a surprisingly local scale. The model is already being used to forecast El Niño high water levels on the West Coast and is now being considered as a planning tool to identify vulnerable low-lying areas.

Marcy will put the climate warming phenomenon in terms of the disastrous October flooding and other nuisance flooding events.

“We’re starting to meet those critical (warming) thresholds that are causing impacts, and we’re meeting them more often,” he said. The science itself is still learning; the biggest remaining uncertainty is how fast the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets are going to melt, and consequently sea levels rise, he said.

“So it’s hard to know what to plan for,” Marcy said.

He’ll discuss steps and strategies to improve resilience and combat the problem in the Lowcountry.

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