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New Study: Naval Academy May Have to Move Due to Sea Level Rise

Hurrican Isabel storm damage and flooding at the U.S. Naval Academy.

A flooded U.S. Naval Academy facility due to Hurricane Isabel

By Marc Kodack

The Naval Academy is at risk from sea level rise and more intense storms that may force it to relocate by 2100, according to the featured article in the current issue of the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings journal. The Naval Academy has been in Annapolis, Maryland since 1845. It is surrounded by water on three sides which increases its vulnerability to flooding. Some structures are no more than three feet above the water level. In and around Annapolis sea levels have increased by almost a foot since the 1920s. The sea level is forecast to rise between “0.6 and 3.6 feet by 2050.”

Nuisance flooding regularly occurs in Annapolis and on the academy grounds. For example, in 2018 “a road on the academy’s grounds has been closed 38 times…because of flooding.”

The Navy and the Academy are actively working to address current and future flooding. In 2015 the Sea Level Rise Advisory Council was created. “The board, which includes members of Congress, acts like a board of trustees at a civilian college.” A sea-level adaptation plan is being written by the council.

Vice Admiral Ted Carter, the academy’s superintendent, thought there were three options to address seal level rise including building infrastructure to prevent water from entering the campus (levees; seawall), using pumps or dikes to remove water from campus, or abandoning portions of the area. However, unlike the Proceedings article, he did not think that the academy would be moving.

For more on sea level rise and storm surge risks to U.S. military installations, see the Center for Climate and Security’s “Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission, 2nd Edition.”


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