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ODU Researchers Discuss Impact of Rising Sea Levels on WHRV’s ‘HearSay’

Joshua BehrJoshua Behr

Three researchers from Old Dominion University's Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative (CCSLRI) discussed the impact of rising sea levels on Hampton Roads during a panel on WHRV-FM's "HearSay with Cathy Lewis" on Wednesday, May 1.

The researchers, Joshua Behr - research associate professor at ODU's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC); Tal Ezer, professor of oceanography; and Hua Liu, assistant professor of geography - are members of CCSLRI, a multidisciplinary research effort launched by ODU in 2010 to calculate the effect of rising sea levels in myriad areas.

During the hourlong "HearSay" panel presentation, titled "Lower Income and Higher Seas," the three researchers spoke about the unexpected negative consequences area residents will face from rising sea levels, particularly the effects felt by vulnerable populations.

Behr has led efforts to map vulnerable populations in the region and design strategies to help mitigate the effects of rising sea levels, especially during storm events. Virginia's Department of Emergency Management has used the research of Behr and colleague Rafael Diaz, a research associate professor at VMASC, in national presentations as an example of Virginia's best practices.

Ezer, an oceanographer, has done extensive research on the effect of global warming on ocean currents. A recent study he led has identified a "hot spot" of accelerated sea level rise from North Carolina to New England, caused by a diminished flow of the Gulf Stream.

The findings of Ezer and his fellow researchers can explain why in some regions, such as Hampton Roads, the sea level has been rising two to three times faster than the average global sea level, and why the rate of the rise has increased in recent years.

Liu, whose research expertise includes Geographic Information Systems (GIS), has worked on several studies about the disparate impacts of sea level rise on Hampton Roads' underserved populations, including a neighborhood-by-neighborhood mapping of vulnerable and medically fragile populations conducted with Behr.

To hear the ODU researchers' panel discussion, see: http://www.hearsay.org/post/Lower-Income-and-Higher-Seas.aspx.

The goal of ODU's CCSLRI is to foster research, education and outreach on the impact that climate change and sea level rise may have on metropolitan communities that are situated at or close to sea level.

"HearSay with Cathy Lewis" is WHRV-FM's locally produced, public affairs radio call-in program that discusses issues important to Hampton Roads. The show airs every Monday through Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. on WHRV-FM (89.5), reaching more than 52,000 listeners, from Richmond to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.