Sea level rise would put up to 325 essential infrastructure facilities in Puerto Rico at risk by 2100

A new analysis published Tuesday by Union of Concerned Scientists (or UCS) —a non-profit organization in defense of science— assures that he climate change rapidly aggravates tidal flooding and increases risks to essential coastal infrastructure and valuable on which millions of people in Puerto Rico and the United States depend.

According to the analysis, titled “Looming deadlines for coastal resilience”, assuming an average sea level rise of 3.2 feet, up to 28 essential facilities would be at risk of flooding twice a year on average by 2050. Of that total, the document indicates, 20 would be at risk of flooding on average once every two weeks.

While, by the end of the century, Up to 325 facilities would be at risk of flooding twice a year. Of these, 322 would be at risk of flooding on average once a month and 300 on average once every two weeks.

Puerto Rico would rank seventh highest for infrastructure at risk of damaging floods by 2100″says the report revealed on Tuesday.

“Essential infrastructure at highest risk of flooding by 2050 and 2100 includes public housing, as well as sites with industrial contamination.”he adds, while ensuring that by 2100 that figure would increase.

Likewise, the report projects an increase of more than 55% in the number of essential infrastructure facilities at risk of flooding by 2050 and an 18-fold increase by 2100, compared to the reference year 2020.

urgent action

The study also ensures that by the year 2050 Nearly 1,100 critical infrastructure facilities along the US coast would flood on average 12 times a yearwhich is equivalent to once a month due to the rise in sea level.

According to him, this figure could rise to more than 5,300 facilities that would be at risk by the year 2100while in the more than 1,700 communities in the United States where these facilities are located, approximately 7.4 million people currently live.

“With the rapid increase in tidal flooding risks that high-cost, long-lived infrastructure will face in the coming decades, Policymakers and decision-makers in all sectors of society must take urgent action to protect communities and drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels that cause the climate crisis,” the report indicates.

Essential infrastructure

Essential infrastructure is defined in the analysis as facilities that provide functions necessary to maintain daily life or that could pose a risk to society if flooded.

The analysis also includes results for the years 2020, 2030, 2050 and 2100 for six types of essential infrastructure: educational institutions, energy infrastructure, government facilities, industrial pollution sites, public and subsidized housing, and public health and safety properties.

Factors that contribute to a community being considered marginalized include the burdens the community faces related to health, housing, climate change, and income.

However, it was indicated that the analysis only considers current data on infrastructure and population, which means that results could be conservative.

The study was carried out by using a combination of data from the tide gauge of the National Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)information from US government agencies and three sea level rise scenarios that were developed by a United States Interagency Task ForceUCS was able to determine the frequency with which essential infrastructure facilities located along the entire coast of the contiguous United States, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, would be routinely at risk of flooding.

According to the study, almost a third of coastal communities are currently designated as disadvantaged, but they are home to more than half of the critical infrastructure at risk until 2050.