Researchers have examined how flooding from increasing sea levels and storm surges will erode constructed establishments along the coast, but how to evaluate climate change’s less noticeable impact under the surface?
A study undertaken by civil engineers at Colorado University examines the hidden cost to building foundations due to rising sea level. The researchers proposed a method for inspection and repair to lower the cost associated with damage from saltwater.
“It is important to plan ahead, considering there are above 16 million buildings along the Gulf and U.S. Atlantic coasts” stated the researchers who are part of the NIST Center for Risk-Based Community Resilience Planning at CSU.
Meanwhile, nearly 137,000 residential buildings in low-lying regions of Mobile County, Alabama were studied and the probable foundation damage from saltwater corrosion estimated.
With rise in sea level, groundwater table rises, and saltwater is more corrosive than fresh water. Based on existing predictions for rise in sea level and water table levels in Mobile, researchers predicted how long it would take for saltwater to seep in the buildings’ foundations.
Under projections of extreme rise in sea level, researchers estimated annual repair cost for building foundations in Mobile could amount to US$ 90 million by 2100.
“In fact, the value obtained is only for one of the saltwater intrusion scenario for 137,000 buildings in Mobile,” stated the co-author of the study.
If the cost of entire East Coast, or from East Coast to West Coast is calculated – it would be staggering.
In a bid to find solution to optimize the high cost, engineers devised a formula to help building owners to determine the time of inspection and repairs based on building location and probability of saltwater corrosion.