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Tourism industry preps for climate change, coastal storms

Karl Malgiero
Delaware Public Media

Climate change and coastal storms could put Delaware’s beach tourism industry in jeopardy and a new report from Delaware Sea Grant looks at ways to address that.



When carbon dioxide builds up in the atmosphere, oceans absorb heat, ice melts and sea levels begin to rise. Warmer oceans make it easier for storms like Hurricane Sandy to brew.


Delaware Sea Grant’s acting director Jim Falk said his group’s new report, "Coastal Delaware Resiliency" pulled together data showing what we know about climate change and how it could affect Sussex County. It examines the critical question of how Delaware businesses and homeowners can account for these changes.


"People are still moving to our coastal areas," Falk said. "We just have to make sure they’re up to speed on where they build, how they build."


Since tourism is the driving force behind the First State’s coastal economy, Falk said businesses and town officials need to work together on education and emergency management planning. The state could learn a lot from hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, like better management practices in the face of a storm, Falk said.


"These predictions are for storms like this to be continued, to accelerate like they are and (we’ll) probably have more severe storms over time, more severe impacts," Falk said.


Delaware Sea Grant also wants to use the report to alert the tourism industry about what these looming issues could mean for communities near Delaware’s beaches. For example, the report notes 40 percent of state parkland could be underwater if sea levels rise by a half meter.


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