Virginia’s Tangier Island Residents Could Become ‘Climate Change Refugees’

A report says islanders in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay could be among the first “climate change refugees” in the continental United States.

The research published in the journal Scientific Reports says residents of steadily shrinking Tangier Island in Virginia will have to abandon their fishing community in about 50 years amid rising seas.

The author is David Schulte, an oceanographer with the Army Corps of Engineers. He calls Tangier a “ground zero” for climate change in the U.S.

The research was funded by the Corps of Engineers, which has said millions in new infrastructure such as breakwaters could shield Tangier Island and extend its life.

About 700 people live on Tangier, where crabbers known as watermen catch the bay’s signature blue crab.