SPACE

Rising sea levels threaten to swamp Nasa space centres, say scientists

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 May, 2014, 9:22pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 May, 2014, 9:22pm
AFP

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Rising sea levels are threatening most of Nasa's launch pads and multibillion-dollar complexes famous for training astronauts and launching historic missions to space, scientists said.

From Cape Canaveral in Florida to mission control in Houston, the US space agency is busily building sea walls where possible and moving some buildings further inland.

Five of seven major Nasacentres are located along the coast. Experts say that proximity to water is necessary for safety and logistics when launching rockets and testing spacecraft.

Many Nasa centres had already faced costly damage from encroaching water, coastal erosion and potent hurricanes, said a report issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Perhaps the most iconic launch pad lies in Florida at the Kennedy Space Centre, the lift-off point for the Apollo missions to the moon and many space shuttle flights.

"According to Nasa's planning and development office, rising sea levels are the single largest threat to the Kennedy Space Centre's continued operations," said the report, which also listed various historic sites across the United States that are also threatened by sea level rise.

They include the Statue of Liberty in New York, the first permanent British colony in North America at Jamestown Island in Virginia, and historic Charleston, South Carolina.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," said the union's director of climate impacts Adam Markham. "We need to make adaptation a national priority and bring resources where they're needed."