As US politicians keep on playing with global warming, the US property owners would not be able to check the impending threat from rising seas.
Ocean levels are rising higher and more rapidly on both coasts of the US compared to other regions of the world, and California is extremely susceptible, as found out by two new studies.
Robert Dalrymple, civil engineering professor at Johns Hopkins University says that by 2100 sea level will rise by one meter, which is higher than the expectation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Ice melting from ice caps, ice sheets and glaciers contribute to 65 percent of the rise in sea level. The rest is a result of expansion of the oceans across the globe due to warming. In addition to Washington and Oregon, California was one of the states situated in America’s Pacific coast to ask for a study by the National Research Council regarding the impact of sea level change on them.
The release of IPCC’s estimation of global sea level rise took place in 2007. Dalrymple arrives at two prime effects on the basis of that report. The first one is that with the rise in sea level, the inundation of the low lying areas will occur. Another major concern is that owing to the higher sea level, coastal storms would be able to penetrate further inland. Hence the damage caused by coastal storms would aggravate.
With the warming of the climate, higher waves and increasingly extreme storm surges are expected, enhancing the risk of wetland loss, coastal erosion and flooding. Across the California coast, housing developments, sports stadiums and highways are only around a meter over the highest tides.
If the sea level rises by 40 centimeters, the San Francisco International Airport would be flooded, an event likely to occur within a few decades, as stated by the report.
With respect to Oregon and Washington, the outlook might be a little brighter, but Dalrymple states that a powerful earthquake could lead to considerable rise in sea level in the two states. This incident might occur in minutes. This is in addition to the rise of 60 centimeters already predicted for the coming century, as a result of global warming.
The US east coast is also threatened by sea level rise. According to a USGS (United States Geological Survey) study conducted over 1000 kilometers of America’s Atlantic seaboard, spanning across Massachusetts to North Carolina, the area has become a hub of sea level elevation. Experts foresee that within 60 years, the rate of increase of sea level in that area would enhance by 2 to 3.7 millimeters per year. This kind of increase is 3 to 4 times more than the average elevation of the sea level, taking into account the same period.
According to the report, the rise in sea level registered on the East Coast is in line with a deceleration in the Atlantic Ocean’s circulation. Computer models reveal that this alteration in circulation might be related to salinity, water temperature and density across the sub-polar north Atlantic.