Sea Level Rise Along US East Coast Happening 3-4 Faster Than Average

aka Kath/CC BY 2.0

It's tempting to think that sea level rise happens uniformly across the globe, but that's not the case. Much like how some areas of the planet are warming far more than others, there are places where, due to a variety of factors, sea level rise is happening more quickly.

A new report in Nature Climate Change finds that the east coast of the United States is one of those. Sea level rise here is happening 3-4 times as quickly as the global average—with the expectation, the USGS says, that "if global temperatures continue to rise, rates of sea level rise in this area are expected to continue increasing."

The study calls the 600-mile region from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to north of Boston a hotspot for sea level rise. Since 1990 the area has been experiencing sea level rise of 2-3.7mm per year, whereas the global average is 0.6-1mm annually.

Yale e360 sums up the reason for the regional difference:

Sea levels appear to be rising in this mid-Atlantic region because a major Atlantic current that carries tropical water to the north is slowing down; that warmth expands seawater, which can lead to higher sea levels.

USGS director Marcia McNutt notes, "As demonstrated in this study, regional oceanographic contributions must be taken into account in planning for what happens to coastal property."

Worth noting, remember that North Carolina just signed a bill into law that essentially forces state planning agencies into ignoring sea level rise. Where's Cape Hatteras again? Oh yeah...

Tags: Global Climate Change | Global Warming Effects

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