VIMS study shows seas rising faster than thought

The Army Corp of Engineers is seeking feedback from Norfolk residents about flood plans.

GLOUCESTER POINT, Va. (WAVY) – A new study from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science shows how much our sea level is expected to rise in the next 30 years.

The VIMS study predicts a rise of nearly 20 inches at Sewell’s Point by the year 2050. ODU Oceanographer Larry Atkinson reviewed the study, and says its chief author is one of the best authorities on sea level rise in the world.

“It’s really been the life work of Dr. John Boon over at VIMS,” Atkinson said.  “(The sea level)  seems to be rising a bit faster than we thought five or ten years ago.”

View the sea level report here

Read the announcement from VIMS here

That’ll mean more locations will flood, and the ones that already do will be deeper and last longer.

“When we have a large hurricane come by and there’s storm surge, or a nor’easter like right now, we’ll see more flooding,” Atkinson said. “The region is starting to take action. There will be large structures built to help mitigate some of this.”

Christy Everett of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation calls the VIMS study concerning, and talked about smaller-scale plans to address sea level rise, which she sees as more environmentally conscious.

On the campus of the Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, Everett showed us what are called pervious pavers and plantings called bio-swales.

“When the rain comes through, it goes between the pavers and into the ground and back to the aquifer,” Everett said.

The pavers are designed to re-direct storm surge, and the bio-swales are designed to retain it. “So it could prevent it from flooding a parking lot, destroying cars, things like that.”

Atkinson says sea level rise comes from a number of factors, including climate change, sinking land and expanding ocean waters from ice and glacier melt.

Several agencies are working on plans to mitigate sea level rise,including the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Commonwealth Center for Coastal Flooding Resiliency, a joint collaboration among VIMS, ODU and William and Mary’s Law School.