Sea Level Rise and Its Economic Effects on Naval Installations

Global sea level is rising. Coastal lands are at risk from eventual inundation, property loss and economic devaluation. The threat is impending but not rapidly approaching. With sea level rise projections ranging from 0.1 meters to 2 meters by the year 2100, there are concerns but little action being taken to adapt and prepare.

Given the potential economic impact of future flood events, it appears that many government agencies and municipalities are not taking enough action to prevent the threat of sea level rise.

Due to its large footprint of real estate within the coastal zone worldwide, one of the largest organizations threatened directly by sea level rise is the U.S. Navy.Adapting to sea level rise will require strategic planning and policy changes in order to prevent the encroaching sea from limiting naval operations and threatening national security.

This study provides a tool to aid Navy decision makers in Implementing Sea Level Adaptation (ISLA). The ISLA tool applies the methodology of decision trees and Expected Monetary Value (EMV), using probability to estimate the cost of potential flood damage and compare this cost to adaptation measures. The goal of this research is for ISLA to empower decision makers to evaluate various adaptation investments related to sea level rise.

A case study is used to illustrate the practical application of ISLA. The case study focuses on when to implement a variety of adaptation measures to one asset at the naval base at Norfolk, Virginia. However, its method can be applied to any asset in any location. It is not limited to only military bases.

ISLA incorporates a unique method for analyzing the implementation of adaptation measures to combat future coastal flooding which will be worsened by sea level rise. It is unique in its use of decision tree theory to combine the probability of future flood events with the estimated cost of flood damage. This economic valuation using Expected Monetary Value allows for comparison of a variety of adaptation measures over time. The projections of future flood damage costs linked to adaptation allows the decision maker to determine which adaptation measures are economically advantageous to implement and when to implement them.
Source: University of Maryland
Authors: Schedel, Angela Luzier

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