Climate change: US sea level to rise by a century’s worth by 2050, new report says

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One of America’s top sea-level scientists has warned that the nation’s streets will be flooded, following the release of a new report stating that by 2050, U.S. sea levels will rise by a century’s worth.

Per The Washington Post, a report released this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has projected that the U.S. coast will be subject to an extra foot of rising sea levels during the next three decades due to climate change. As a consequence, flooding and erosion of coastal communities will become commonplace even on days without heavy rainfall.

Per The Weather Channel, it is projected that on average, the East Coast will see 10 to 14 inches of sea-level rise, the Gulf Coast will experience 14 to 18 inches, and the West Coast will experience 4 to 8 inches. NOAA National Ocean Service Director Nicole LeBoeuf said, “By 2050, moderate flooding — which is typically disruptive and damaging by today’s weather, sea level, and infrastructure standards — is expected to occur more than 10 times as often as it does today. These numbers mean a change from a single event every 2–5 years to multiple events each year, in some places.”

By 2100, NOAA expects at least a two-foot rise in sea levels fueled by ocean warming and higher atmospheric temperatures. Oceanographer William Sweet said, “We’re unfortunately headed for a flood regime shift. There will be water in the streets unless action is taken in more and more communities. Even if the world takes swift action to curb carbon emissions, the trajectory for sea-level rise is more or less set over the next 30 years.”

Kristina Dahl is a principal climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, and she points out that research suggests that if sea levels rise by 10 to 12 inches by 2050, roughly around 140,000 homes would be at risk of flooding every week. She explained that coastal communities that have avoided major flooding to date would also be at risk.

Scientists have warned that it is essential for coastal communities to start planning for regular inundation, particularly in areas where coastal development and sinking land aggravate the risks posed by sea-level rise. NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad told journalists in a teleconference: “This report is a wake-up call for the U.S., but it’s a wake-up call with a silver lining. It provides us with the information needed to act now to best position ourselves for the future.”


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