Erika Spanger-Siegfried

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About the author: Erika Spanger-Siegfried is a senior analyst in the Climate & Energy program at UCS. She currently manages UCS’s coastal and Mountain West climate impacts projects, designed to shed light through new research and outreach on ongoing local impacts, current efforts to cope, and the urgency of high-level action. Erika formerly managed the Energy-Water Initiative (EW3) and, prior to that, the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment, a research effort to explore climate change, impacts, and solutions in the northeastern United States. She holds a master’s degree in energy and environmental analysis from Boston University. See Erika's full bio.

Smothering Snow, Spiking Sea Levels, and Other Climate Plot Twists: Expecting the Unexpected in the Northeast

When I first started digging into climate impacts, I used to think that the northeastern U.S., where I live, was a pretty good place to have landed. I still think so. It’s unlikely we’ll see historic mega-droughts, like those forecast by some for the U.S. Southwest. We’ll see heat that we’re far from prepared for, but it’ll be hotter still in the South. Our forests are expected to change, but they’re not under pressure like those in the Mountain West, nor are they currently experiencing rising risks of wildfire. We have our own problems, to be sure, like coastal vulnerability and trends in extreme precipitation.

But this week in the news there are two new studies that reminded me to expect the unexpected. While we understand the general pathway of change, the shorter-term directions the climate can take along the way can take us by surprise. Read More

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Encroaching Tides: How Sea Level Rise and Tidal Flooding Threaten U.S. East and Gulf Coasts Communities over the Next 30 Years

Today UCS is releasing a report that outlines steep increases in the frequency, extent, and duration of tidal flooding for communities along the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts. Riding on higher seas over the next 15 and 30 years, the tides alone have the potential to start reshaping how and where people in affected areas live, work, and otherwise go about their daily lives. And by causing certain areas to be regularly flooded, sea level rise has the potential to effectively claim land decades before that land is projected to be permanently underwater. We need to understand what we’re dealing with and start responding. Read More

Categories: Global Warming  

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Sea Level Rise and Tidal Flooding: Forthcoming Report on Encroaching Tides Signals a New Chapter for Many Coastal Communities

There are things we know pretty well about the effects of sea level rise. Today it is making damage from storm surge worse. In the second half of this century, it will permanently inundate certain places. In between, it is rising, and at an accelerating rate. But there are things we don’t understand nearly well enough for a country with a third of its population living in coastal counties. Things like: What effect will it have on coastal communities over just the next several decades?

Next week, UCS is releasing a new report that takes a hard look at this question for the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts, and outlines in detail the central and disruptive role that tidal flooding is poised to play. Read More

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The Human Toll of Sea Level Rise: What the 2014 National Climate Assessment Doesn’t Say about It (But We Can)

The good news about the 2014 National Climate Assessment (NCA) is that, unlike past assessments, it is able to connect climate change much more directly to our lives. Read More

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Florida Sea Level Rise: A State’s Race Against The Sea

Sea level rise experts from across Florida and around the world convened in Fort Lauderdale recently to discuss the latest science and strategies for sea level rise adaptation. And as if to urge them on, the king tides rose as conference goers watched, topping canal walls and spilling onto roads. That summit, the second annual held by Florida Atlantic University, dovetails with this week’s sold-out gathering on advancing coastal adaptation action, which brings together state leaders from four southeastern counties. Those who understand what’s at stake here are in a dead sprint for solutions.

Florida: the sunshine state, land of citrus, destination Disney World — and ground zero for sea level rise in America. Read More

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Water Tight: Our Climate Change Future Requires Our Water Smarts Today

It would just be ironic if it weren’t so dangerous: Today our power sector depends heavily on water, even as its carbon emissions help drive climate change, which can make water resources harder for everyone, power sector included, to secure. Fast forward a few decades to when some of the key factors at play have grown more extreme – e.g., hotter and drier summers, more erratic water supply – and things eventually stop adding up. To have secure power and water in a warming world requires that we act smarter today. Our new energy-water report suggests how. Read More

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Ready or Not: Hurricane Season in a Warming World

Here on the East Coast, the arrival of hurricane season means something very different in 2013 than ever before. It reminds us: catastrophes like Hurricane Sandy are possible. It warns us: if you’re on the coast, you could face grave risk. And it asks: are you ready? Read More

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Seaside Retreat: Redefining Coastal Communities as the Ocean Rises

We get it now: Sea level is rising and the wrong storm can decimate our coastal communities. Now what? Read More

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What Hurricane Sandy Means (to Me)

Superstorm Sandy is over and we on the dazed East Coast are left to clean up. The waters are receding and, for those of us not directly hit, the memories will fade as the weeks go by. But in this window when we’re still discovering the incredible extent of its damage and our justified fears are fresh, I want to capture a few of the things Sandy offered up that I think are worth learning from this storm. Read More

Categories: Global Warming  


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If You Can’t Take the Heat: How Summer 2012 Strained U.S. Power Plants

The summer of 2012 officially ended last week, but not before showing the United States the many ways it’s vulnerable to heat and drought, and ill-prepared for our warming future. Not least among these, we saw how our power sector strained under the kind of searing summer conditions our mid-century selves may find commonplace. Our electricity system, it turns out, wasn’t built for summers like 2012, and it showed. Read More

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