Rising Sea Levels Could Force Relocation of U.S. Naval Academy

Rising Sea Levels Could Force Relocation of U.S. Naval Academy

Recent climate change models and evidence of accelerated warming may have dire consequences for the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., according to a column in the October edition of Proceedings, a magazine published by the U.S. Naval Institute.

The column, written by Navy Cmdr. Pat Paterson (Ret.), reports scientists predict sea-level rise and intense storms will inundate the 174-year-old academy, and without prompt action climate change could force the Navy to relocate it by 2100.

It is one of numerous installations facing rising seas, and even with growing awareness and urgency among policymakers, there remain too many greenhouse gases to reverse the planet’s warming, according to the column.

The Naval Academy is especially vulnerable to sea rise with water on three sides including the Severn River along the east, Spa Creek to the south, and College Creek north, the column says.

Parts of the academy adjacent to the water stand just over three feet above the water line, and its highest position stands nearly 40 feet above the water line, according to the report.

Annapolis-area sea levels have risen about one foot over the past 100 years and depending on factors including greenhouse gas reductions, advances in renewable energy and the Antarctica ice melt rate, by 2100 it could rise eight feet, the column states. 

The academy and Annapolis are experiencing climate change and Annapolis has the highest coastal flooding rate in the U.S., according to the column.

According to Patterson, a Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) commissioned study showed that more than fifty of 1,200-plus U.S. military bases at ‘high risk’ or ‘very high risk’ from climate threats are Navy bases.

The former commander says the most at-risk installations include Naval Air Station Key West, Fla., Naval Air Station Oceana/Dam Neck, Va, and Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.

Navy photo by Stacy Godfrey

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