Expert available to discuss new report that puts globe on course for breaching benchmark high temperature

A new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) shows that the world’s average temperature could breach a record 1.5 Celsius of warming compared to pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

News reports call the WMO announcement a critical warning of an average world temperature limit in the face of climate. Researchers indicate the threshold could be broken as early as 2027. A caveat: The breach will likely be only temporary. Nonetheless, as temperatures rise, ice in Antarctica and other places melts, setting up all but certain rises in sea levels. The problem will be further complicated by sinking coastal lands such as Chesapeake Bay in Virginia.

Virginia Tech geophysicist and environmental security expert Manoochehr Shirzaei studies climate change and uses publicly available satellite imagery to build maps of millions of instances of rising sea levels and coastal land subsidence.

“Sea level rise and land subsidence increase the hazards associated with hurricanes, storm surges, shoreline erosion, and inundation of low-lying coastal areas where the high density of population and assets amplifies the regions exposure to hazards.” He explains that land subsidence can also affect coastal structures’ integrity and increase the likelihood of failure.

Shirzaei says the solution varies from place to place based on the individual situation. It may involve upgrading protection facilities (i.e. dams), raising lands, maintaining and restoring nature-based protection (i.e. wetlands), controlling subsidence, improving flood resiliency, selective relocation of important infrastructure, or installing flood warning systems. 

About Shirzaei

Manoochehr Shirzaei is an associate professor and geophysicist in the Department of Geosciences, part of the Virginia Tech College of Science. Director of the Earth Observation Lab at Virginia Tech, Shirzaei’s research recently has focused on promoting environmental security through quantifying the impact of the human system and climate change on the availability of water and energy resources in the U.S. He is an affiliated member of the Virginia Tech Global Change Center. Shirzaei has been quoted in WIREDWHRO NPR Norfolk, Coastal News Today, Smart Water Magazine and others.

Schedule an interview

To secure a live or recorded interview, contact Margaret Ashburn in the media relations office at [email protected] or 540-529-0814 or Steven Mackay at [email protected] or 540-739-9434.

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