Science

Study highlights sea level rise on the Atlantic coast of the United States

Researchers from Rutgers University say the rate of increase in sea level in the 20th century along the Atlantic coast of the United States was the fastest in 2,000 years. Researchers say southern New Jersey had the fastest rates of sea level rise in the entire United States. According to the team, global increases in sea level from melting ice and ocean warming between 1900 and 2000 led to a rate of increase more than twice the average years from 0 to 1800.

about studyingIn six cities along the coast in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and North Carolina using a sea level budget, Rutgers researchers looked at factors contributing to sea level change over the course of 2000 years. According to the team, using the budget enhances understanding of the processes that lead to sea level change. Includes processes that affect global, regional (such as land subsidence) and local (such as groundwater withdrawal).

Lead study author Jennifer S Walker says that understanding long-term changes in sea level at sites is critical to regional and local planning and responding to future increases in sea levels. The study says that sea level rise caused by climate change threatens to permanently inundate islands, cities and lowlands. Increasing ocean levels also increase these areas’ exposure to flooding from coastal and other storms.

The new study estimates sea level budgets for longer time frames of more than 2,000 years, which differ from most sea level budget studies that were limited to the 20th and 21st centuries. The team is currently looking at how to apply their method to other sites around the world to understand how the processes that lead to increased sea level have changed and could shape change in the future.

The team used statistical models and a sea level budget for six cities to study. They divided sea level records into global, regional, and local components, and discovered that regional subsidence, or land sinking since the Lorentide ice sheet receded thousands of years ago, dominated each site’s budget over the past 2,000 years. Total sea level rise for each of the six cities during the twentieth century ranged from about 1 to 1.4 inches per decade.

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