Photograph by Andrea Pattero/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Facing More Dramatic Sea-Level Rise than Expected

Scientific research indicates sea levels worldwide have been rising at a rate of 0.14 inches (3.5 millimeters) per year since the early 1990s. The trend, linked to global warming, puts thousands of coastal cities, like Venice, Italy, (seen here during a historic flood in 2008), and even whole islands at risk of being claimed by the ocean. Photograph by Andrea Pattero/AFP/Getty Images
Scientific research indicates sea levels worldwide have been rising at a rate of 0.14 inches (3.5 millimeters) per year since the early 1990s. The trend, linked to global warming, puts thousands of coastal cities, like Venice, Italy, (seen here during a historic flood in 2008), and even whole islands at risk of being claimed by the ocean.
Photograph by Andrea Pattero/AFP/Getty Images

Many U.S. cities, especially along the coasts, are in more danger from sea level rise than experts anticipated. They’re also going to be dealing with it much sooner, and will have to create more environmental jobs to build defenses against the rising waters and storm surges.

A few years ago the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change created computer simulations that projected the amount and rate of sea level rise, which was about 2.2mm a year. But satellite measurements from 1993 to 2011 prove oceans are rising about 60 percent faster than those projections–3.2mm a year.

Scientists working environmental jobs regarding climate change are distressed, because this means that even with the worst case scenario projections, researches have grossly underestimated the impact of global warming.

One U.S. mathematician, Grant Foster, worked on the recent study alongside a German climatologist. Foster said, “Generally people are coming around to the opinion that this is going to be far worse than the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] projections indicate.”

Cities along both coasts are going to be affected, including New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Savannah, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Florida. All in all, over 285 cities will need more environmental jobs to deal with potential flooding. Ben Strauss, Climate Central’s director of the sea-level rise program, said, “In some places it takes only a few inches of sea-level rise to convert a once in a century storm to a once in a decade storm.

Grant Foster summed up the problem. “The study indicates that this is going to be as bad or worse than the worst case scenarios of the IPCC, so whatever [environmental jobs] you were planning from Cape Hatteras to Cape Cod, in terms of how you were preparing for sea-level rise–if you thought you had enough defense in place, you probably need more.”

By John Courtney

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