The release of new data on rising ocean levels has brought national attention on this issue to the fore.
Just before Christmas, the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) announced that a majority of U.S. coastal cities have already passed a tipping point in sea level rise and are slated for 30 or more days of flooding per year by mid-century.
Moreover the sea level rise is not happening uniformly, said the study, published on December 18 in the American Geophysical Union’s online peer-reviewed journal Earth’s Future. It will be spaced out, with some cities having already arrived at that point and others en route by 2050 and beyond, NOAA said. The tipping point is for “nuisance flooding,” a term that NOAA coined to describe floods of one to two feet above local high tide that happen more than 30 or more times annually.
The findings echo those in the video below, based on the Coastal Chapter of the National Climate Assessment report commissioned by President Barack Obama and released last year. Miami, New Orleans and Virginia Beach are high on the list of cities already experiencing such weather events.
“This is not something about the future. It’s already happening now,” says convening lead chapter author Susanne C. Moser.
“There is a ton of coastline in America,” Moser says. “We have something like 94,000 miles of coastline, 60,000 miles of coastal roads. Half of America lives within coastal water counties, or very close to the coast. So we are a coastal country, if you will.
Not only that, but coastal conditions can reach far inland, even beyond the rising water itself, she notes: “Ninety percent of our consumer goods come through coastal ports.”