Sea levels are rising faster than previously thought, meaning low-lying coastal cities in the United States could flood more regularly in the coming decades, a NASA study has revealed.
According to the study, which analyzed three decades of satellite observations, by 2050, sea level along the contiguous US coastline could rise as much as 12 inches (30 centimeters) above the current waterline, the research team said. said in a statement (opens in new tab). The Gulf Coast and Southeast regions are expected to be the most severely affected, and storm surges and surges are likely to increase in the near future, according to the study, published Oct. 6 in the journal Communication Earth and environment (opens in new tab).
The results support the “high-range” scenario the multi-agency made in February Sea Level Elevation Technical Report (opens in new tab). The report suggested that “significant sea level rise” could hit the US coast within the next 30 years, with an average rise of 10 to 14 inches (25 to 35 cm) predicted on the East Coast; 14 to 18 inches (35 to 45 cm) for the Gulf Coast; and 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) for the West Coast.”
The NASA study builds on methods used in earlier multi-agency reports and was led by a team of researchers and scientists. Jet Propulsion Laboratory (opens in new tab) in California, which is dedicated to exploring the deepest recesses of space and using satellites for “advance understanding” of Earth.
NASA research has measured sea level elevations with satellite altimeter measurements and then correlated them National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (opens in new tab) (NOAA) tide gauge records are more than 100 years old As a result, NASA can confidently say that its satellite readings are not anomalous, and are fully supported by findings on the ground.
While the findings of the new study are undoubtedly cause for concern, Jonathan Overpeck (opens in new tab)An interdisciplinary climate scientist at the University of Michigan who was not involved in the research suggested that the projections do not come out of the blue by any means.
“NASA’s findings seem robust and they are not surprising. We know that sea level rise is accelerating and we know why,” he told Live Science in an email. “More and more polar ice is melting, and it’s expanding over the oceans as they warm. Obviously, sea level rise is going to get worse the longer we let it go. climate change Continue.”
This view is shared by David Holland (opens in new tab)A physical climate scientist and professor number at New York University who were not involved in the study. “The quality of the satellite data is excellent, and therefore the results are reliable,” Holland told Live Science in an email. “Research shows that the world’s oceans are rising, and more than that, the rise is accelerating. A projected rise of about 1 foot for the Gulf Coast by 2050 is huge. It could hurricane-related storms are worse than the current situation.”
Other factors may contribute to sea level rise along the US coastline. The study indicated that problems associated with sea-level rise “may be amplified by natural variability the world“As El Niño and La Niña impact in the mid-2030s, every US coast will experience “more intense tidal flooding due to high tides.” the moonIts orbit occurs every 18.6 years,” according to the statement.
The effects of El Nino — warming of surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean near South America that can cause precipitation — and La Niña — cooling of surface water in the Pacific Ocean — can challenge accurate predictions of sea level rise, and potentially skew readings. Ben Hamlington, leader of the NASA Sea Level Change Team, noted that natural events and phenomena always need to be taken into account, and said that all forecasts will inevitably be refined as satellites collect data over time.
Despite the study’s ambiguous results, some experts are hopeful that influential, high-profile studies like this one will force decision-makers to focus on addressing the ongoing climate crisis and galvanize the public to demand effective action.
“It’s impossible to ignore. I think so [increased flooding] is catalyzing action, because many coastal communities are discussing these issues and how they respond,” said Robert Nichols (opens in new tab), director of the UK’s Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research, who was not involved in the research. “We have the means to address this challenge to global stability temperature And slow — but not completely stop — sea-level rise, which, unfortunately, will continue for many centuries warm up We’ve already experienced that.”
Ultimately, humanity must adapt as climate change changes our planet’s oceans and seas.
“This may involve retreat in some places, land expansion in others, and defense in others,” Nichols told Live Science. “There are no solutions that will apply everywhere. The future is manageable if we follow this path. Equally, if governments and society ignore these issues, the future will be a real mess.”