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Report says climate change will have ‘increasingly disruptive effect’ on coastal Va.

A statue of Neptune on Virginia Beach’s oceanfront.
A statue of Neptune on Virginia Beach’s oceanfront.(Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)
Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 9:32 AM EDT
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Climate change is expected to have an “increasingly disruptive effect” on residents of Virginia’s coastal areas, with statewide repercussions, a report commissioned by the General Assembly in 2020 found.

“For Virginians living on the coast, the immediate consequences will be rising sea levels, more intense and frequent storms, and warmer and more variable local temperatures,” concludes the report from the Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine, which was presented to the Joint Commission on Technology and Science Tuesday. Those changes will “translate into recurrent flooding, saltwater intrusion into drinking water, inundation of septic system and threats to public health, among other issues.”

The report is the result of a 2020 resolution passed by the General Assembly asking the joint commission to study the “safety, quality of life and economic consequences of weather and climate-related events on coastal areas in Virginia.”

Contributors to the study included representatives from Gov. Ralph Northam’s office, coastal planning district commissions, the Port of Virginia and Virginia Economic Development Partnership, state universities, private industry and law firms.

Jessica Whitehead, executive director of the Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience at Old Dominion University, told the Mercury the report offers policymakers “the top line” of how climate change is affecting Virginia.

“It synthesizes all of this different information and studies and state of the knowledge, and it puts it into a document that any elected official can read,” she said.

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.(Virginia Mercury)

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.

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