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Scientists discuss climate change impact in Virginia

Posted at 11:49 AM, Jul 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-02 17:44:52-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Climate change's impact on coastal cities, towns, and infrastructure should not be underestimated, according to Dr. Kevin Kupietz, Department of Aviation and Emergency Management at Elizabeth City State University.

"It's something we should be concerned about everywhere," Dr. Kupietz said. "We have a lot more hazards that can actually cause things like this [building damage] when we think about the high winds from hurricanes."

He said other concerns include sandier soil, salt in the air, and settling of water. In Virginia, those factors would mostly impact Hampton Roads.

But the Florida disaster, which remains under investigation and has not been officially been tied to climate change, has heightened the conversation surrounding the effects of climate change everywhere.

"It is happening now and it is happening here," Dr. Jeremy Hoffman, chief scientist at the Science Museum of Virginia, said. "Our hots are getting hotter, longer in duration, happening at weirder times of the year. [We are] wetter in the sense that we are experiencing relatively more intense precipitation events."

He said that not only puts a strain on buildings and roads, but also public health.

"We see more and more people get really sick, you know, heat-related illnesses spike in the summertime," he said. "The more that Virginians start to see the impacts of climate change in their backyard, the sooner they start to see those connections between going to the grocery store, or going to school or going to work."