Some of the leading scientists in the country say that sea levels are rising due to climate change. While Connecticut is no stranger to big storms like Irene and Sandy, the experts agree that the warming ocean and rising sea can cause problems for not only our shoreline but also for inland areas.
“You start to have higher tides and higher tidal flooding, sometimes called nuisance flooding that occurs on a sunny day,” said Sean Sublette, a meteorologist at Climate Central located in New Jersey. Climate Central is an organization made up of leading scientists that track changes in our climate.
"More evaporation, more condensation and more precipitation, which means heavier rainfall. Flooding of creeks and streams, so you have flooding inland and at the coastline,” Sublette said.
The message from scientists is that this isn’t just a problem for the shoreline, inland flooding also becomes a problem.
The data already shows that along our shoreline, along with the rest of the globe, on average, sea level has risen from a half of a foot to 1 foot. That may not seem like a lot of rise but scientists’ projections over the next century is for anywhere between 4 to as much as 8 feet.
The cause, say the studies and projections is ice melt from a warming climate. The warming globe due to increased greenhouse gases has “land based ice sheets,” like Greenland and Antarctica, at the poles melting. That has our shoreline rising. Also rising, is the cost to build and maintain property near the water, both inland and at the coast.
Gerard O’Sullivan with the Connecticut Insurance Department said the industry, as a whole, is having conversations about future changes in climate and what it means for building codes, shoreline communities and insuring property as a whole.
"The word out there is that a quarter of flood claims are to properties that are not in flood zones. People need to recognize what their risks are. "
The Insurance Department told us that the best advice for consumers or anyone who isn’t sure if they are at risk for flooding is to check their policies and find the answers before a disaster strikes.
Gina McCarthy is the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency and also ran the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
"You’re going to have to be prepared for extreme weather events and changes that we haven't seen before and more dramatic changes that we haven't seen before,” McCarthy said.