Two-Degree Warming & the Effect on the Eastern Seaboard

When increasingly heavy rains are paired with rising temperatures on a global scale, the results can be devastating. This is precisely what’s happening on the East Coast right now, and AEC professionals are struggling to keep up with the demands of a strained infrastructure system.

Here we take a look at what a two-degree warming effect may have on the Eastern Seaboard and how we can be prepared and respond to changes accordingly.

No Longer a Theoretical Issue

Despite growing concerns, many people still think of global warming in theoretical terms that only affect polar bears and glaciers in the Arctic and Antarctic. Yet a mere two degrees of warming is already beginning to have devastating effects on our infrastructure right here at home.

Researchers have predicted that an earth that’s just two degrees warmer will bring increasingly strong storms, more wildfires, widespread drought, agricultural strains, wildlife extinction, and coastal flooding. This is especially problematic along the U.S. coastlines because high water levels may threaten the coastal towns and cities that we have worked so hard to build.

A review published in Science suggests that two degrees of global warming will make the sea level rise by at least 20 feet, rendering America’s coastal regions virtually unrecognizable. A three-degree increase in global temperature has been predicted by 2050 and may pose serious risks to the soil that we’re building on and overall food production.


Risks of Coastal Flooding

Not only is coastal flooding caused by global warming putting residents’ homes and offices at risk, but it’s also costing governments millions of dollars to fixed roads, drains, and buildings. Even when tidal swells reach just a food deep, they has the power to flood basements, stop traffic, and damage forests. Coastal towns will likely disappear entirely, displacing families and driving the economy into further debt.


The Impact on Roads

To adapt to the rising sea levels on the East Coast, cities like Miami Beach are increasing local fees to pay for raised streets, elevated sea walls, and new water pumps. Additional costs are incurred when giant vacuum trucks must be sent out to drain saltwater from the roads. Road improvements may buy cities time, but they won’t be able to keep residents safe forever if temperatures continue to rise.


2-degree-flickr-2 Source: Andrea Adriano

The Impact on Buildings

Much of the land in coastal regions are now at risk of disappearing, which will hinder valuable construction development and both residential and commercial expansion. Saltwater threatens homes and office buildings along the coast and poses new resiliency challenges for AEC companies.

World Bank conducted a study that ranked cities most at risk of coastal flooding and expressed serious concern for Miami, New York, New Orleans, Tampa, and Boston. These are massive population centers with large amounts of infrastructure, economic assets, and property values. A National Climate Assessment study predicts that 100,000 people in New York City will be underwater by 2100 due to a sea level increase of four feet, resulting in at least $16.5 billion in damage.

Building materials and processes consume energy and can contribute to the effects of global warming happening right now. That’s why it’s so important to adopt green building techniques, utilize renewable resources, and recycle building materials as much as possible. Following the LEED rating system for design and construction will assure that you “use less water and energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.


To learn more about VIATechnik’s sustainable construction estimating and digital construction project management services for your next engineering project, contact us today.





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