A NOAA-led report updating sea level rise decision-support information for the U.S. was released February 15th. The report, in partnership with half a dozen other federal agencies projects a century of sea level rise in 30 years. The United States is expected to experience as much sea level rise by the year 2050 as it witnessed in the previous hundred years.
Based on a combination of tide gauge and satellite observations and all the model ensembles from the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Sea Level Rise Technical Report provides the most up-to-date sea level rise projections for all U.S. states and territories by decade for the next 100 years and beyond.
Sea levels along the coastline will rise an additional 10-12 inches by 2050 the report projects with specific amounts varying regionally, mainly due to land height changes. It also finds that the sea level rise expected by 2050 will create a profound increase in the frequency of coastal flooding, even in the absence of storms or heavy rainfall.
The following quotes are from a NOAA press release on the Sea Level Rise Technical Report.
“This new data on sea rise is the latest reconfirmation that our climate crisis — as the President has said — is blinking ‘code red,'” said Gina McCarthy, National Climate Advisor. “We must redouble our efforts to cut the greenhouse gases that cause climate change while, at the same time, help our coastal communities become more resilient in the face of rising seas.”
“This is a global wake-up call and gives Americans the information needed to act now to best position ourselves for the future,” said Rick Spinrad, Ph.D., NOAA Administrator. “As we build a Climate Ready Nation, these updated data can inform coastal communities and others about current and future vulnerabilities in the face of climate change and help them make smart decisions to keep people and property safe over the long run.”
“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,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, NOAA National Ocean Service Director. “These numbers mean a change from a single event every 2-5 years to multiple events each year, in some places.”
“This report supports previous studies and confirms what we have long known: Sea levels are continuing to rise at an alarming rate, endangering communities around the world. Science is indisputable and urgent action is required to mitigate a climate crisis that is well underway,” said Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator. “NASA is steadfast in our commitment to protecting our home planet by expanding our monitoring capabilities and continuing to ensure our climate data is not only accessible but understandable.”
NOAA reports that sea levels along the contiguous U.S. coastline is expected to rise on average, 10 – 12 inches (0.25 – 0.30 meters) in the next 30 years (2020-2050). This will vary locally because of regional factors. Rise in the next three decades is anticipated to be, on average:
East coast: 10 – 14 inches (0.25 – 0.35 meters)
Gulf coast: 14 – 18 inches (0.35 – 0.45 meters)
West coast: 4 – 8 inches (0.1 – 0.2 meters)
Caribbean islands: 8 – 10 inches (0.2 – 0.25 meters)
Hawaii islands: 6 – 8 inches (0.15 – 0.2 meters)
Northern Alaska coast: 8 – 10 inches (0.2 – 0.25 meters)
Pacific islands, Southern Alaska coast, and other locations not listed.
Photo courtesy of NOAA