(CN) – Coastal flooding from high tides and storm surges has drastically increased over the last 30 years due to climate change and a new study published Friday finds some communities are already paying the price.
In the study, published in the journal Science Advances, researchers from Stanford University estimated Annapolis, Maryland, had about 3,000 fewer visitors in 2017 due to flooding. The loss of tourism cost the city between $86,000 and $172,000.
Encroaching floodwaters that disrupt businesses and close roadways have become more common: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates days with flooding have increased by about 60 percent from 20 years ago and almost 100 percent from 50 years ago.
Throughout the United States, 27 locations saw 2.1 flood days per year in the late 1950s. That figure jumped to 11.8 days between 2006 and 2010, and by 2035 some 170 coastal communities will likely see as many as 26 days with flooding caused by high tide.
In 2017, Annapolis topped the list of cities with 63 days of high-tide flooding that year.
“As global temperatures and sea levels rise, high-tide flooding becomes more frequent,” said Stanford graduate student Miyuki Hino, who is in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources. “For coastal businesses, that means more days when customers might not be able to get to their store. Even though most floods only last for a few hours, their impacts can add up.”
And for businesses affected by floods, the impacts include lost revenue.
The researchers studied parking meters, satellite imagery and conducted interviews to see how customers were dissuaded from visiting during flood hours near the popular business region known as City Dock in Annapolis. They found people did not return after the floods subsided or parked somewhere else.
The overall losses totaled about 2 percent in annual visits, but researchers said this will likely get worse as sea levels rise over existing ocean barriers.
Rising sea levels, extreme drought and other weather-related conditions displaced 21.5 million people between 2008 and 2016, according to the International Displacement Monitoring Centre.
The U.S. Global Change Research Program Climate Science Special Report projects sea levels will rise between half a foot and 1.2 feet by 2050 when compared to sea levels in 2000.