A new study shows that sea levels along the United States’ northeastern coast will rise nearly twice as fast during this century than previous predictions. By 2100 the waters around New York city could rise as much as 18 inches, leaving Manhattan particularly vulnerable to flooding from hurricanes and winter storm surges.
Using 10 climate models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) researchers including Jianjun Yin from the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS) at Florida State University calculated that there was a 90 percent chance that sea levels along the northeastern coast of the United States will exceed global sea level by the end of the century.
They attributed the rising waters to thermal expansion and a slowing of the North Atlantic Ocean circulation due to a warming ocean surface.
“The northeast coast of the United States is among the most vulnerable regions to future changes in sea level and ocean circulation, especially when considering its population density and the potential socioeconomic consequences of such changes,” Yin said. “The most populous states and cities of the United States and centers of economy, politics, culture and education are located along that coast.”
However even this prediction could be quite conservative, since Yin and his colleagues did not factor in further sea level rises from land ice melting, such as the Greenland ice sheet, because of the level of uncertainty regarding such melt.
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