HOUSTON, June 1 Climate change over the next 20 to 70 years
can be expected to increase hurricane flooding in Corpus Christi, Texas,
home of three U.S. refineries, according to a study by Texas A&M University
sponsored by the National Commission on Energy Policy released on Monday.
Corpus Christi, on the south Texas coast, already faces the risk of
widespread flooding from the most powerful hurricanes, according to the
"Flooding and damage from major hurricanes will be more severe," said
study author Jennifer Irish, assistant professor of coastal and ocean
engineering at Texas A&M University, in a statement. "And the worse global
warming gets, the more severe the consequences for the Texas coast."
The risk of flooding from less powerful storms will increase as rising
sea levels reduce the protection from barrier islands and intensify the
power of tropical cyclones, the study found.
The coastal land on which Corpus Christi sits is sinking due to
geological forces and oil extraction. Mustang and Padre Islands, which
provide barriers to Corpus Christi Bay, are eroding.
Sea levels at Corpus Christi are expected to rise about 2.6 feet by
2080, further reducing the protection of the barrier islands. Melting of
the ice sheets around the world may increase the amount by which seas
"Higher sea level means higher flood levels," according to the study.
Catastrophic storm surge as might be caused by the most powerful
hurricanes in the 2030s could add $100 million to $250 million in
structural damage at Corpus Christi.
By the 2080s, catastrophic storm surge could boost property damage
between $265 million and more than $1 billion.
But property damage from less powerful storms would also increase by
tens of millions of dollars, according to the study.
The National Commission on Energy Policy is a non-profit board of 20
members from industry and academia that makes bi-partisan proposals on
(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by John Picinich)