NASA’s launching and training facilities are at risk due to sea level rise as a result of climate change.
The U.S. space agency triggered an alarm signal regarding the increasing sea levels earlier this year. Now, NASA warns that its own facilities such as shuttle launch pads or training facilities for astronauts face the real threat of being flooded.
According to Cynthia Rosenzweig, climatologist with space agency,
“Every NASA center has its own set of vulnerabilities, and some are more at risk than others. But sea level rise is a very real challenge for all of the centers along the coast”.
Over half of the facilities and centers referred to in the scientist’s post featuring on NASA’s website are located within 16 feet of sea level. Provided that sea level rise continues at the rapid rate that has been registered in the past years, infrastructure, laboratory equipment and a wealth of data amounting to an estimated 32 billion dollars are at risk of being severely affected by floods.
60,000 employees are working in these facilities. Whether we are talking about launch pads, data centers, testing facilities or airfields, all of these are under threat from rising sea levels from the West coast to the East Coast of the U.S.
In a previous report, NASA explained that due to climate change, the rise in sea levels is unavoidable. As the climate changes and temperatures rise, the sea levels rise due to water heating up. Alarming ice melting rates, on land or otherwise, is also contributing to the inevitable outcome.
According to NASA, one of the bases that faces the threat of being flooded is the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Of crucial importance to NASA, the Kennedy Space Center has been the host of historical moments such as the launching of the crew landing on the Moon in 1969, and several others.
Kennedy Space Center is built on marshland that averages 5 to 10 feet above the sea level. While the beach in its vicinity is already eroding, a dune collapsing last year near the launchpads had NASA reconsidering how sustainable the coastal facilities really are. And while it may still take decades for the facility to be flooded,
“Still, when you put expensive, immovable infrastructure right along the coast, something’s eventually got give”,
stated John Jaeger, who is a geologist with the University of Florida.
Currently, NASA is looking into possible protective measures that would manage risks adequately. Cynthia Rosenzweig is helping the space agency develop plans for the long haul. The purpose is to mitigate the inevitable consequences that the sea level rise could have on NASA facilities located along the U.S. coast.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia