Giving Compass' Take:
- Studies indicate that U.S. coastal sea levels are rising at rates that have been accelerating at a record-breaking pace for the last 12 years.
- What are the long-term implications for the environment if the sea levels continue to rise at this rate? How can climate activism help address this acceleration?
- Read more about predictions for rising sea levels.
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Sea levels along the US Southeast and Gulf coasts have been rapidly accelerating, reaching record-breaking rates over the past 12 years, according to a new study.
The researchers say they have detected rates of sea-level rise of about a half an inch per year since 2010. They attribute the acceleration to the compounding effects of man-made climate change and natural climate variability.
“These rapid rates are unprecedented over at least the 20th century and they have been three times higher than the global average over the same period,” says Sönke Dangendorf, assistant professor in the river-coastal science and engineering department at Tulane University and lead author of the study in Nature Communications.
The authors studied a combination of field and satellite measurements since 1900, pinpointing the individual contributors to the acceleration.
“We systematically investigated the different causes, such as vertical land motion, ice-mass loss, and air pressure, but none of them could sufficiently explain the recent rate,” says coauthor Noah Hendricks, an undergraduate student in Dangendorf’s team at his former institution, Old Dominion University.
“Instead, we found that the acceleration is a widespread signal that extends from the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico up to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina and into the North Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean seas, which is indicative for changes in the ocean’s density and circulation.”
Over the past 12 years this entire area, known as the Subtropical Gyre, has been expanding primarily due to changing wind patterns and continued warming. Warmer water masses need more space and thus lead to a rise in sea level.
Read the full article about climate change by Barri Bronston at Futurity.