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Retreat may be the best option for some coastal communities in face of sea level rise

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Codes and Standards

Retreat may be the best option for some coastal communities in face of sea level rise

A new study makes the case for relocating in a "strategic, managed" manner.

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | September 10, 2019
Retreat may be the best option for some coastal communities in face of sea level rise

Photo: Photo by Damon Hall from Pexels


For some coastal communities damaged by flooding, retreating from the shoreline is a better option than rebuilding, argue some scientists in a new research publication.

Global warming and rising sea levels make the concept of rebuilding, even with more stringent codes, a futile effort for areas of high risk, they say. For example, the billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and the creation of dunes after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 could be wasted resources if sea level rise inundates the coastline again.

The researchers suggest that a “strategic, managed retreat” is not a sign of weakness, but rather the smart option that provides an opportunity to build new communities. The researchers recommend better access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. These maps should be updated regularly, they add.

In the U.S., coastal communities are home to nearly 40% of the population.


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