A new report reveals that the United States will have the first climate refugees of the century, after the Tangier Island in Virginia will be swallowed by waters.
Tangier Island is one of the last two inhabited islands of Virginia. Situated in the Chesapeake Bay, it is the home of more than 700 people. Unfortunately, according to a report published in Scientific Reports on December 10, in no more than 50 years they will all have to leave their homes to the waters. Tangier Island will become uninhabitable as a result of global warming and of the rising sea levels.
However, since the 1600s, more than 500 islands of the Chesapeake Bay have vanished into the ocean. About forty of them have once been habitable. Erosion and the rising sea levels have swallowed all of them besides Tangier and Smith Island.
According to oceanographer David Schulte, engineering structures could be used to delay the end of Tangier Island but the only way to actually save it and many more coastal cities is taking serious action against global warming.
On Tangier Island there is already a seawall, dating since 1989, which protects the island’s airport from storms and erosion but also from the rising of the sea level.
In order to predict how many years are left before Tangier becomes the modern Atlantis, Schulte and his team has used maps of the island dating from the 1850s. They have compared the geography of the island from more than 150 years ago with the one from today and then mixed the data with expected rates of sea level rise to estimate the land loss in the future.
Tangier Island has already lost 66.75 percent of its land since 1850. The west side of the island suffers the most damage as a result of erosion from sea storms. The level of the seas has risen between 0.04 and 0.1 inches every year. The rising sea levels, combined with deterioration from erosion will speed up the island’s process of drowning.
However, you don’t need maps to see the changes on the Tangier Island. No longer than 10 years ago, the ruins of an abandoned settlement in the north of the island could still be seen with the naked eye. Now there is nothing left of it. Canaan settlement has also been abandoned as a result of frequent flooding, in the 1920s.
The disappearance of their island in the next 50 years will turn the citizens of Tangier Island into the first climate refugees of the century.
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