Ask any climate change denier about sea level rise, and you’ll get the usual mishmash of “lacking anecdotal evidence” and “normal cycle” nonsense, instead of pointing to the facts.
On the Northeast Coast of the United States, however, sea level rise is a very real and measurable thing. It’s not just a theory that Northeastern beaches are eroding faster than ever before and, thanks to some new research by the University of Arizona and the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Analyzing data from dozens of tide gauges on the eastern seaboard, researchers discovered some interesting trends, none of which bode well for coastal residents the further North you go.
Interestingly, sea level rise data already showed increases of more than 12 inches near New York City, since 1900. Granted, 12 inches in 100 years seems minimal, less than an eighth of an inch per year, on average, but that’s not the whole story. Just shy of 3.9 inches of sea level rise took place in the last two years, which means that climate change is accelerating the rate at which sea level is increasing. Depending on latitude, it was less severe, Southeast coasts, such as Florida and Georgia, saw little to no increases, while the Northeast coast saw the biggest increases, five inches near Portland, Maine.
Of course, four inches sea level rise isn’t, in itself, a huge danger, though scientists suggest that this increase alone is eroding beaches as much as a single hurricane even would. Add storm surge to the mix, and the increase of coastal flooding becomes a serious risk.
The New York City Panel on Climate Change (NYCPCC) reports that unimpeded greenhouse gas emissions could add an additional 11 to 21 inches to the average sea level, by 2050. Further, the NYCPCC suggests that sea levels could increase 18 to 39 inches by the 80s, and as much as 72 inches by the 100s.