NU Online News Service, Nov. 18, 4:05 p.m. EST

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Research on climate change is ongoing, but risk managementevaluation and strategies need to begin now to avoid theconsequences of escalating property loss, according to a study byAER and AIR Worldwide.

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The study, "An estimate of increases in storm surge risk toproperty from sea level rise in the first half of the twenty-firstcentury," was conducted jointly by environmental research firmAtmospheric & Environmental Research (AER) and its sistercompany AIR Worldwide, a risk modeling firm.

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It found that the expected average annual losses for the entireU.S. Gulf and East Coast regions in 20 years is $12.3 billion--anincrease of 18.6 percent from current levels--if sea level changeand tropical storm activity stay consistent with current warm seasurface temperature trends.

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The study noted that during this time, the Mid-Atlantic Coast isexpected to experience the sharpest percentage increase in lossesdue to climate change.

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On a local basis, the study said regions most at risk arecentered on the Mississippi Delta, the Gulf Coast of Florida southof Tampa Bay, and Cape Hatteras. The Mississippi Delta and CapeHatteras are also areas where the sea level is rising most quickly,according to the study.

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When it comes to climate change, the study said, simple answersare few and not sufficient to allow for precise projections.Society, however, does not need to wait until all the answers arecertain in order to act, the study added. Rather, it said, societymust make critical risk management decisions in the face ofuncertainty.

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A valuable approach is to inform decision-makers withsensitivity studies and potential future scenarios to enable theformation of resilient strategies designed to cope with climatechange, according to the study.

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