Img_1867Sea Bright and other coastal areas could expect more scenes like this one, from tropical storm Ernesto in 2006, according to a report that also examines the economic wallop of rising seas.

The economic impacts of global warming on New Jersey could run to the tens of billions in coming decades, says a new report highlighted in today’s Star-Ledger.

From the Sledger:

A rapid rise in sea level, increased flooding and more frequent and more intense storms will damage the state’s coastal communities, including businesses, infrastructure and freshwater supplies, the Center for Integrative Environmental Research at the University of Maryland said.

The rising sea level also poses risks to coastal shipping, commercial fishing and tourism. New Jersey’s coastal communities generate 70 percent of the state’s total annual tourism dollars, according to the researchers, who also issued reports for seven other states.

The study is one of the first to examine the impact of climate change on state economies.


“We don’t have a crystal ball and can’t predict specific bottom lines, but the trend is very clear,” said the study’s coordinator, Matthias Ruth. “Climate change will cost billions in the long run and the bottom line will be red.”

Predictions for New Jersey include:

— Beaches will erode at a rate of 50 to 100 times faster than the rate of sea level elevation and will cost an estimated $6 billion in maintenance over the next 50 years.

— By 2100, Atlantic City will flood every one to two years, with serious economic repercussions. For example, if the state’s coastal communities suffered a 1 percent decrease in tourism each year, by 2017 the state would lose $3.7 billion and 40,000 jobs.

— Damage to coastal infrastructure from an increase in major storms would raise the economic impact of climate change in the state from $3.9 million in 2007 to more than $45 million in 2017.

“New Jersey is more vulnerable than the other states, especially in terms of sea-level rise,” researcher Daria Karetnikov said. “You have a really long eroded coastline, and coastal development is also widespread.”

The sea level along New Jersey’s coast has risen at a rate of 0.14 inches a year over the last century — nearly twice the global average, according to experts — and is expected to rise 2 to 4 feet between now and 2100. The result is that the ocean will claim a substantial part of land along the coast, where development has led to soil erosion.

New Jersey’s low-lying coast averages 120 feet of inundation for every one-foot rise in sea level. By the end of this century, up to 3 percent of the state’s 210-mile-long shoreline will be under water.

Over the next few decades, coastal storms would be more intense and more frequent. Instead of occurring, on average, once every 20 years, they would occur every five.

Here’s the New Jersey report: Download newjersey_economic_impacts_of_climate_change.pdf