ABSTRACT

Griggs, G., Coastal airports and rising sea levels.

Most of the world's major cities are located along coastlines, and their large international airports are typically built either very close to sea level or on filled shallow coastal waters. These large facilities handle thousands of flights and millions of passengers annually, and in addition to being critical infrastructure, they are huge economic engines. Being very close to sea level, however, many of these airports are already exposed to extreme flood events (hurricanes, typhoons, large storms, and high tides) and in the future will face increasing risks with global sea-level rise. LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy (JFK), and Newark all suffered some flood damage during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. San Francisco and Oakland airports have already developed plans to build walls to protect them from 2 to 3 ft (0.6 to 0.9 m) of additional sea-level rise. In addition to these airports, the Federal Aviation Administration has designated the airports at Philadelphia, Washington National, Miami, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, Louis Armstrong New Orleans, and Honolulu as at-risk from future storm surge and high water from extreme events. A rising ocean is inevitable and will be additive over time with extreme events. The existing elevations of individual airports combined with projections of future sea-level rise can provide important guidance on when these facilities are likely to be exposed to tidal flooding and, therefore, when airport management should begin to plan to respond or adapt to the future threats.

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