Climate change’s impacts on South Carolina

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Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 12:51 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - What exactly does climate change mean for the state of South Carolina? Meteorologist Adam Clark is digging into that question and breaks down the impacts warmer temperatures have on the Midlands and the coast.

Climate change is just that, a change in the long-term climate of the earth.

How much have we seen so far? The answer: 1 degree Celsius in the last 100 to 125 years.

What is the goal? According to Dr. Greg Carbone, a professor at the University of South Carolina, the goal is to slow the warming that we’ve already seen.

”We are trying to not go to a 2 degree C increase in the next 100-125 years.”

Carbone says in the last 40 to 50 years the amount of greenhouse gasses has been so large it swamps any of the natural causes of climate change and that it is caused by humans.

“Chemists can look at isotopes and clearly see it is a fossil fuel signal in the last 40 to 50 years.”

In Columbia, it’s our heat, due to our sandy soils, lack of sea breeze, and elevation our city cooks!

”The biggest impact is for human health in the summertime with both combinations of extreme temperatures, but also air quality degrades under warm summer conditions. Ozone levels and ozone alerts are likely to go up with warmer temps.”

He says drought is a big concern with warmer temperatures, comes more evaporation.

”We know that drought or agricultural drought or even water resources related drought could be exasperated simply because of higher rates of evaporation.”

When it comes to the tropics, don’t expect more storms, but stronger ones.

”Changes in frequency of storms is not the major projection, but changes in the intensity of these storms is very likely.”

Dale Morris is the Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Charleston, his job is to prepare the city for climate change. He says the sea-level rise is already a big concern.

”We know there’s been 13″ of sea-level rise in Charleston harbor in the last 80 years, most of that rise has been in the last 20.”

The city of Charleston has frozen developments for low-lying areas. And they are carrying out a feasibility study with the Army Corps of Engineers on building a sea wall to the tune of 1.1 billion dollars.

He says, “It is the number one priority of the Army Corps of Engineers in the areas between North Carolina and Mississippi.”

Morris says the wall would be 12 feet high, which would have protected against the 10-foot surge from Hurricane Hugo back in 1989.

Anything over that mark would be pumped out with pumps. He says that the project will allow for an expansion if the sea level continues to rise.

”Engineer this structure so if we need to add 2 to 3 feet of elevation on top of the wall, we will be able to do it without ripping the entire wall out. Charleston is going to do its best to make sure it is here 300 years from now.”

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