Just in time for World Water Day, our allies at Climate Central have prepared a scary new report on the state of sea level rise across the USA. Titled “Surging Seas“, the report shows that sea level rise due to climate change has already doubled the annual risk of coastal flooding across mainland USA.
The how, where and when of sea level rise
Due to increased greenhouse gas emissions, rising global temperatures and melting polar ice sheets, the volume of the ocean has rapidly increased in the past 100 years. Unlike a bathtub – which can be drained to stop an overflow – our earth has no drain stopper. When water levels rise, they have nowhere to go but up and over coastlines and low-lying communities.
Currently the regions most at risk from local sea level rise increases are in the Chesapeake Bay area, Louisiana and the western Gulf of Mexico. The land in these areas is slowly sinking, making it even more vulnerable to storm surges from hurricanes and bad weather. They’re also quick to point out that the topography of a region can greatly increase the threat of a sea level rise. Communities situated along the 100 metre tall cliffs of northern California may not see a great threat to their wellbeing. But the Miami metro region – which is generally flat and barely above sea level – could be completely inundated.
In general, the researchers agree that rather than rising between 7 inches and 2 feet, the seas are likely to rise between two and seven feet by the end of the current century, with about three feet being the most popular estimate.
Rising to the challenge
Visit Climate Central’s website to learn about the risk to your coastal community and other information, including the following:
- National report and map tool;
- Fact sheets laying out the risks for each coastal state;
- Two peer-reviewed papers in the scientific journal Environmental Research Letters;
- Downloadable data for all the cities, counties and states studied; embeddable widgets; and republishable graphics; and
- Links to dozens of local, state and national planning documents for coping with rising seas.
Read more: Climate Central >>
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