Global sea level rise will disproportionately affect much of the US coastline

Global sea level rise will disproportionately affect much of the US coastline
Source: AP
Source: AP

In grim climate news, a new report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns that, while sea levels are rising around the world, they're rising faster than the global average along much of the U.S. coastline — including along the Northeast Atlantic.

"The ocean is not rising like water would in a bathtub," NOAA oceanographer and lead author of the report William Sweet said in a statement. "For example, in some scenarios sea levels in the Pacific Northwest are expected to rise slower than the global average, but in the Northeast they are expected to rise faster."

Driving through sea water in Charleston, South Carolina, in October
Source: 
Stephen B. Morton/AP

The NOAA report, co-authored by the Environmental Protection Agency, the South Florida Water Management District, the U.S. Geological Survey and researchers from Rutgers and Columbia universities, is designed to help U.S. communities prepare and plan for possible consequences of sea level rise. It outlines "six global sea level rise scenarios (low, intermediate low, intermediate, intermediate high, high and extreme) decade by decade for this century." 

As CBS News reported Tuesday, "In the mildest projected scenario, global sea levels will rise by about one foot by the end of this century. In the worst-case scenario, global sea levels will rise by 8.2 feet."

CBS News also reported that even if we don't reach the absolute worst-case predictions, U.S. residents will still suffer — "researchers have estimated that a lower rise of 6 feet would be enough swallow up the homes of about 6 million Americans."

Cars drive through floodwaters in 2014 in Miami Beach, Florida.
Source: 
Lynne Sladky/AP

The NOAA identifies two major causes of sea level rise — the fact that the ocean is warming (and expanding as it warms) and the melting of "land based ice," like glaciers. And, according to the NOAA, more warming means that sea levels will "likely rise for many centuries," and they'll rise at faster and faster rates. That puts the nearly 40% of the U.S. population who live in "relatively high-population-density" coastal cities and towns at risk.

Considering that 2016 was the hottest year on record for the third year in a row — and that President Donald Trump, who this week ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to delete information about climate change from its official website, seems to have no plan to fight global climate change — coastal U.S. cities will likely get a lot wetter over the coming years.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Anna Swartz

Anna is a staff writer for Mic covering breaking news. She can be reached at aswartz@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Warrant suggests Justine Damond may have slapped police cruiser before she was fatally shot

The officers involved in the shooting remain on paid administrative leave.

House passes new sanctions against Russia by an enormous margin

The bill also places limits on Trump’s power to ease or end penalties against Russia.

Paul Manafort is meeting with Senate investigators. Here’s what we know about his Russia ties.

Paul Manafort has Russia links dating back more than 10 years.

Yes, Donald Trump can fire Robert Mueller. Here’s how he can do it.

It's a complicated process, and it could get messy, but he can do it.

Charlie Gard’s parents say they want to take their son home to die

The parents are returning to court to fight for their right to take their son home.

Vatican shuts off historic fountains in the midst of devastating drought

Officials say it's the first time they can recall ever shutting off the Vatican's fountains.

Warrant suggests Justine Damond may have slapped police cruiser before she was fatally shot

The officers involved in the shooting remain on paid administrative leave.

House passes new sanctions against Russia by an enormous margin

The bill also places limits on Trump’s power to ease or end penalties against Russia.

Paul Manafort is meeting with Senate investigators. Here’s what we know about his Russia ties.

Paul Manafort has Russia links dating back more than 10 years.

Yes, Donald Trump can fire Robert Mueller. Here’s how he can do it.

It's a complicated process, and it could get messy, but he can do it.

Charlie Gard’s parents say they want to take their son home to die

The parents are returning to court to fight for their right to take their son home.

Vatican shuts off historic fountains in the midst of devastating drought

Officials say it's the first time they can recall ever shutting off the Vatican's fountains.