The Northeast Corridor may be underwater

A northbound Amtrak train moves along a track near the Delaware River as seen from an aerial photograph taken over Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. Photographer: Michelle Gustafson/Bloomberg

Here is another direct impact of climate change. The Amtrak Northeast Corridor, in the United States, carries 12 million people by rail each year on stops between Washington, D.C. through New York City to Boston–a total of 457 miles.

According to a multi-year Amtrak study (completed in 2017 but kept private until a public records request in November 2018), parts of the route “face continual inundation” through “flooding, rising seas, and storm surge [that] threaten to erode the track bed and knock out the signals that direct train traffic.” “If one of the segments of track shuts down, it will shut down this [entire] segment of the Northeast Corridor.” “There is not an alternate route that can be used as a detour.”

As with many other coastal areas on the U.S. east coast, “sunny day flooding”–flooding on days with no rain–is already impacting homes, roads, businesses, and, in this case, one of Amtrak’s major routes and even its Consolidated National Operations Center in Wilmington, Delaware.

Chronic inundation–“flooding an average of at least twice a month”–will impact the Northeast Corridor route in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey as well as Delaware by 2050-2100, if not before.

The Northeast Corridor route runs close to rivers and the ocean through many heavily-populated urban areas. “If the Northeast Corridor starts to go underwater, Amtrak won’t be the only entity with an issue.” Amtrak runs through the heart of many cities; if there’s a risk, there’s a risk to much more than Amtrak.

Read the article; see the graphics (Christopher Flavelle and Jeremy C. F. Lin, Bloomberg Businessweek, December 20, 2018).

See —

The impact of sea level rise on Florida–and the world

For more information about the impacts of climate change, search the Science Primary Literature Database and the Headline Science Database.

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