The browser or device you are using is out of date. It has known security flaws and a limited feature set. You will not see all the features of some websites. Please update your browser. A list of the most popular browsers can be found below.
The report included 69 recommendations on how the Northeast can adapt its shoreline infrastructure to rising tides and extreme weather.
The report comes a day after the online release of another study, led by a World Bank economist, saying climate change-induced flooding could cost the world’s 136 biggest coastal cities $1 trillion dollars annually by 2050 -- unless such cities raise their defenses.
The United States faces especially difficult problems, the HUD task force said, calling for development of a more advanced electrical grid less likely to be crippled in a crisis.
The report also said local officials were unprepared for the impact of Hurricane Sandy, which battered the Northeast last October, because the Federal Emergency Management Agency had not revised its flood maps.
"Since FEMA had not updated flood maps of New Jersey and New York City in more than 25 years, it was difficult for local planners to effectively understand and address current and future risks posed by climate change, urbanization, and other factors."
Task force recomendations
Some of the group's main recommendations are already underway. They include creating new flood-protection standards for major infrastructure projects built with federal money, and promoting the use of a new sea level calculation system to help builders and engineers predict where flooding could be a problem.
Dr. Jay Hobgood, director of the atmospheric research center at The Ohio State University, told Al Jazeera that the best way to keep storm surge from the Atlantic Ocean at bay would be to build up the dunes and marshes that block the waves, but that houses and other developments there stand in the way.
The cost of insuring homes along coasts might in the future force people to leave, Hobgood notes, opening up the shoreline to being restored to the natural sea barrier--dunes, marshes and wetlands--it had been before large scale development started.
The Task force found that the cost of insuring homes along the shore was a difficult problem regulators should continue to discuss.
"If it ever gets too expensive to live there, that will be a tipping point for the coastal areas," Hobgood said.
"After a major storm affects the coast people won't want to rebuild. And that may be the opportunity to do the coastal restoration without disrupting their lives, because the storm itself has already disrupted their lives."
The study by World Bank economist Stephane Hallegate and colleagues, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, said the current losses in the world’s largest cities amount to $6 billion per year, with four cities -- Miami, New York and New Orleans in the United States and Guangzhou in China – accounting for 43 percent of the costs.
Hallgatte told NBC that the United States faces particular challenges to adapting to climate change because of its patchwork of local, state and federal governments.
"The U.S. has trouble financing infrastructure, not only for coastal protection, but also transportation," Hallgatte said.
Adapting to climate change
To Hobgood, America’s decentralized political system provides both an opportunity and an obstacle to adapting to a changing climate.
"Building codes and zoning are local, so if a local community decides they want to do something they can move fairly quickly to change the zoning to allow or not allow building close to coast. The disadvantage is if you face a large regional or national problem then you really need a national solution. That's where the decentralization makes it more difficult," Hobgood said, adding that the federal government’s sheer financial might can help if applied correctly.