A new report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and six other federal agencies say that sea levels in the United State’s coastline will rise by .25 metres in the next 30 years.
And given the speed of warming due to human activities, scientists expect that sea levels will rise by two feet by the end of the century.
“The United States is expected to experience as much sea-level rise in the next 30 years as we saw over the span of the last century,” says Rick Spinrad, the NOAA administrator, at a news conference announcing the findings. What we’re reporting out is historic (Wetzel, 2022).
“Make no mistake: Sea level rise is upon us”, says Nicole LeBoeuf, director of NOAA’s National Ocean Services” (Borenstein, 2022).
The report warns that this rise in sea levels will bring more floods from storms and high-water levels on the coasts during high tides.
The rise in sea levels will vary across the U.S. coasts, with the highest increase on the Gulf of Mexico and East Coast, while the West Coast and Hawaii will see a below-average rise.
This rise is because oceans are not filling up uniformly like a bathtub. The differences can be attributed to subsidence and geology characteristics, and because the landmass is unevenly distributed globally, gravity’s pull on the water is not everywhere. Just like some places are warming faster than others. According to The Economist, while the rest of the world is experiencing an average SLR of 17 cm, America has an average of 28 cms.
Sea level rise by 2050 in various U.S. regions according to the report.
SLR in the western Gulf of Mexico will be 0.4 to 0.45 meters by 2050, the eastern Gulf of Mexico at 0.35 to 0.4 meters by 2050, and Southeast U.S. Coast at 0.3 to 0.35 meters, and the Northeast U.S. Coast at 0.25 to 0.3 meters. As a whole, the United States’ average sea level rise will be 0.6 meters by 2100.
There are two primary causes for the sea-level rise – thermal expansion caused by the warming of ocean waters and the melting of land-based glaciers and ice sheets. The oceans are significant carbon sinks and soak up 90% of excess heat from our GHG emissions (Is the sea level, 2022).
Though damages have been done due to the projected sea-level rise, the report says that drastic cuts to carbon emissions can still reduce the severity of sea-level rise for 2100.
The report’s findings should drive more actions to curb emissions and scale up climate adaptation measures, especially on coastal areas facing future sea-level rise and associated threats.
Read the full report by clicking the link to the “2022 Sea Level Rise Technical Report” provided in the “Source” below.
Wetzel, C. (2022, February 22). Sea Levels Will Rise One Foot Along U.S. Coasts by 2050. Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/sea-level-will-rise-one-foot-along-us-coasts-by-2050
Borenstein, S. (2022, February 16). U.S. could see a century’s worth of sea rise in just 30 years. A.P. News. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/article/floods-climate-science-national-oceanic-and-atmospheric-administration-texas-81ea3dfde46f98ed675c92a0447c8114
Is sea level rising? (2021, December 10). NOA. Retrieved from https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/sealevel.html#:~:text=The%20two%20major%20causes%20of,as%20glaciers%20and%20ice%20sheets.
2020 Sea Level Rise Technical Report. (2022). NOA. Retrieved from https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/hazards/sealevelrise/sealevelrise-tech-report.html