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A rapid increase in sea levels across the southern U.S. is compelling coastal communities to adapt to unprecedented environmental changes.

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In short:

  • Tide gauges from Texas to North Carolina show a sea level rise of at least 6 inches since 2010, mirroring the previous half-century's rise.
  • The region faces multiple secondary effects, such as failing septic systems and higher insurance rates, alongside increased flooding.
  • Local efforts to adapt are underway, including infrastructure enhancements and federal funding initiatives to mitigate future risks.

Key quote:

“Storm water flooding is getting worse and is unsustainable. Almost all our systems are gravity fed, and they were built out a long time ago.”

— Renee Collini, director of the Community Resilience Center at the Water Institute

Why this matters:

Persistent, inexorable sea level rise challenges existing infrastructure and increases risks by, among other things, contaminating water supplies and limiting access to essential services. Read more: Severe flooding increasingly cutting people off from health care.

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