Sea levels have been rising steadily however new research suggests they it is happening far quicker than predicted along the East Coast. Climate change is driving unprecedented sea level rises which resulted in a string of floods along the East Coast in 2009 and 2010.
While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns us to expect sea level rises of about a half an inch each year, a new report documents a sea level rise 10 times that amount.
This extreme surge was the subject of a new study by the University of Arizona and NOAA published in Nature Communications. According to the research, oceans along the East Coast rose between four and five inches in 2009 and 2010. This is the highest sea level rise on record.
As to whether or not this event could be the result of chance, researchers described it as a “1-in-850-year event.” The study singles out the weakening of ocean currents (particularly the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, or AMOC) as a salient contributing factor and atmospheric pressure (the North Atlantic Oscillation, or NAO index). Both of these factors are exacerbated by climate change.
however, Jianjun Yin of the University of Arizona said, “Global warming definitely contributed to this event.”
“We should expect more of these extreme rises in sea level,” said lead author Paul Goddard who is a doctoral student of Yin. He went on to say, “this to happen more in the future.” Other climate scientists have corroborated this view.
In 2009 and 2010 there were a number of floods from North Carolina all the way up to the Canadian province of Newfoundland. The dynamic interplay between high seas and surges associated with storms and hurricanes make the problem far more perilous. The East Coast event caused massive flooding and the impact will be far greater when it is compounded by extreme weather events that are known to be intensified by climate change.