U.S. coastline to see up to a foot of sea level rise by 2050

The United States is expected to experience as much sea level rise by the year 2050 as it witnessed in the previous hundred years. That’s according to a NOAA-led report updating sea level rise decision-support information for the U.S. released February 15 in partnership with half a dozen other federal agencies.

The report projects sea levels along the coastline will rise an additional 10-12 inches by 2050 with specific amounts varying regionally, mainly due to land height changes.

“For businesses along the coast, knowing what to expect and how to plan for the future is critical,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “These updated projections will help businesses, and the communities they support, understand risks and make smart investments in the years ahead.”

“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.”

U.S. coastline to see up to a foot of sea level rise by 2050
Image credit: New U.S. regional sea level scenarios developed by NOAA and partners will help coastal communities plan for and adapt to risks from rising sea levels. This photo shows flooding in Norfolk, Virginia, on May 16, 2014. (NOAA)

The report 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. 

“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.”

Top image credit: iStock/ Florida Chuck.

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