Sea levels on US coasts are rising sharply

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Sea levels on US coasts are rising sharply
Science American report

Sea levels on US coasts are rising sharply

View of downtown New Orleans and the Mississippi River

View of downtown New Orleans and the Mississippi River

Source: Getty Images / Westend61

The seas along the Atlantic coast rose at their fastest rate in 2,000 years in the twentieth century. “Areas that have never had floods before will be inundated,” said meteorologists. US states such as Louisiana and Texas will be particularly affected.

DrThe sea level on the coasts of America will rise more rapidly in the next 30 years than it has in the entire twentieth century. A government report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and six other federal agencies warned of costly flooding regularly, even on sunny days.

Sea level will then rise by 0.25 to 0.3 metres, and in parts of the US states of Louisiana and Texas by 0.45 metres. “Sea level rise is here,” said Nicole LeBeouf, director of NOAA. The projected increase is particularly worrisome given that seas along the Atlantic coast rose at the fastest rate in 2,000 years in the 20th century. 40 percent of the American population lives on the coast.

However, oceanographer William Sweet, the report’s lead author, said the worst long-term sea-level rise from melting ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland likely won’t happen until after the year 2100.

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University of Wisconsin-Madison geologist Andrea Dutton, who specializes in sea level rise and who doesn’t expect that to happen, said she is involved in the federal report. “We can see this freight train coming from over a mile away. The question is whether we will keep sliding the houses into the sea.”

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The report is only valid until 2050 – and then?

By mid-century, researchers warned that “moderate” floods would replace already regular small floods in some areas. “There will be flooding in areas that have not experienced flooding before,” said William Sweet. “Many major metropolitan areas of the East Coast will be increasingly at risk.”

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icy

And that’s only until 2050. The report predicts a mean sea level rise of about three feet in the United States – more in the east, less in the west – by the end of the century.

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