Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Global Warming and Sea Level Rises on the US East Coast

Global warming is the primary factor contributing to rising sea levels and with new data showing that greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, we can expect concomitant rises in sea levels in America and around the world. To try to address the threat on the US East Coast, UCS convened a multi-state roundtable in April. This roundtable included the US Army Corps of Engineers as well as officials from Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia, They discussed efforts to protect their communities and steps to build resilience like elevation of structures and shoreline protection. They also shared best practices for protecting coastlines and developing coordinated response strategies.

Sea levels are rising because global warming is causing ocean waters to warm and expand as well as melting ice (glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets). Since the industrial revolution global sea levels have risen 8 inches and they are expected to rise an additional 6 to 16 inches above current levels by 2050, and 12 to 48 inches by 2100.

Sea level increases are even more severe on the East Coast and in Gulf states. Currently in places like Virginia Beach, VA, sea levels have risen as much as 30 inches, Atlantic City, NJ has seen 20 inches; New York City has seen 14 inches; Miami Beach, FL has seen 12 inches; and Wilmington, NC has seen 10 inches.

The costs of sea level rises are staggering. Cities and counties in southern Florida alone are already facing billions of dollars of expenditures associated with sea level rises.

Joe Vietri, representing the USACE, said about Hurricane Sandy, “What we really got a glimpse at was our collective future.”

One storm can incur tremendous costs. Sandy cost the state of New York $32.8 billion and the costs New Jersey were $29.4 billion.

While many citizens did not listen to the reams of scientific data supporting climate change, they were forced to listen to Sandy. As Stephen Marks of Hoboken said, “The debate about climate change is essentially over. Hurricane Sandy settled that for, I would say, a majority of the residents of our city.”

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

Related Articles
UCS Facts Sheet on Global Warming and Sea Level Rise
Global Warming and Sea Level Rises on the US East Coast
Infographic - Sea Level Rise and Global Warming

No comments: