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“NASA Is Facing a Climate Change Countdown”

Nearly 2/3 of the land that NASA manages is within 16 feet of mean sea level, according to a news article published in the New York Times today.  Because of this, and knowing the upward creeping sea levels around the world due to warmer waters and melting ice caps, they have been  working for ten years or more on how to deal with the rising water and its impacts on their infrastructure, including many of the launch pads at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Johnson Space Center in Texas.

Beach erosion from waves caused by passing hurricanes has also put their facilities at more risk.  If the number of destructive storms increases, as some models project, that could become worse in the future.  Other facilities, like many military bases (particularly those of the Navy) are also at risk of inundation as sea levels continue to rise.

Farmers near the coasts are also expected to experience increased salt water intrusion and more frequent high tides which are expected to affect their ability to produce crops in those areas.

The refurbished Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center, which is on the ocean and surrounded by marshland, in 2013. Credit Kim Shiflett/NASA via The New York Times

The refurbished Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center, which is on the ocean and surrounded by marshland, in 2013. Credit Kim Shiflett/NASA via The New York Times