By Patrick O'Driscoll, USA TODAY
A computerized service that assesses global warming risks and other environmental threats is now available for any address in the contiguous USA.
Three University of Arizona scientists won approval from the board of regents this month to create Climate Appraisal Services with an East Coast entrepreneur. They call it the first online, address-based tool for gauging climate-change hazards in the next 50-100 years. It also lists natural and man-made dangers, from hurricanes and earthquakes to pollution and disease.
The service taps the scientists' own climate research, numerous public databases and studies, and data from about a dozen government agencies.
Company CEO David Purcell hatched the idea after wondering what sea-level rise might do to coastal property he was seeking for a home. "That had troubled me, the aspects of climate change and what that meant with shoreline reduction," says Purcell of Easton, Conn. He says he and his wife have held off on buying near the water "because it's high-risk" for the future.
Climate models estimate global warming could raise sea levels from a few inches to 3 feet or more by century's end. Purcell's group notes that uncertainty but emphasizes that hurricane intensity and surge, worsened by warming, raises the risk along the shore. That issue alone "could realign real estate values on coasts in this century in a major way," Purcell says.