NASA warning as Miami at risk of being submerged by unprecedented sea-level rise

Sea levels could rise TWO METRES in 80 years claims expert

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Sea-level rise over the next three decades alone could equal the total rise seen over the last 100 years, increasing the risk of destructive high-tide coastal flooding, the task force said. Specifically, the experts have predicted that US coastal cities will see average ocean levels some 10–12 inches higher by mid-century than they are in the present day. This, the report said, “will cause tide and storm surge heights to increase and will lead to a shift in US coastal flood regimes, with major and moderate-high tide flood events occurring as frequently as moderate and minor high tide flood events occur today”.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said: “This report supports previous studies and confirms what we have long known: Sea levels are continuing to rise at an alarming rate, endangering communities around the world.”

The science, he added, “is indisputable and urgent action is required to mitigate a climate crisis that is well underway.

“NASA is steadfast in our commitment to protecting our home planet by expanding our monitoring capabilities and continuing to ensure our climate data is not only accessible but understandable.”

The experts have calculated that sea-level rise may reach 2–7.2 feet by the year 2100 and 2.6–12.8 feet by 2150 — but that these figures could be underestimated should greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, further pushing up the average global temperature.

In a comment piece for the Conversation, University of Arizona geoscientist Jianjun Yin wrote that the sea-level rise predicted by the report “is due to both sinking land and global warming. Given the greenhouse emissions released so far, the country is unlikely to be able to avoid it.”

He added: “That much sea-level rise means cities like Miami that see nuisance flooding during high tides today will experience more damaging floods by midcentury.

“Nationally, the report expects moderate coastal flooding will occur 10 times as often by 2050.

“Without significant adaptations, high tides will more frequently pour into streets and disrupt coastal infrastructure, including ports that are essential for supply chains and the economy.”

The newly-released report is an update to one published in 2017 that, alongside similarly forecasting sea levels to the year 2150, adds for the first time near-term projections for the next three decades.

The task force was able to provide the latter, NASA explained, by drawing on our improved knowledge of the processes that contribute to rising sea levels — such as both the melting of glaciers and ice sheets but also complex ocean, land and ice interactions.

This understanding, said lead author Dr Ben Hamlington of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, “has really advanced since the 2017 report, which gave us more certainty over how much sea-level rise we’ll get in the coming decades”.

In particular, the report incorporates sea-level projections sourced from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment, which was published in August last year and provides global evaluations of Earth’s climate using digital models.

Nadya Vinogradova Shiffer, who directs NASA’s Sea Level Change Team, added: “It takes a village to make climate predictions.

“When you combine NASA’s scenarios of global sea-level rise with NOAA’s estimates of extreme water levels and the U.S. Geological Survey’s impact studies, you get a robust national estimate of the projected future that awaits American coastal communities and our economic infrastructure in 20, 30, or 100 years from now.”


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Alongside the publication of the interagency report, Dr Hamlington and the Sea Level Change Team at NASA have also developed an interactive map that allows users to visualise the sea level projects on a localised level across the US.

Dr Hamlington added: “The hope is that the online tool will help make the information as widely accessible as possible.”

NOAA Administrator Dr Rick Spinrad said: “This is a global wake-up call and gives Americans the information needed to act now to best position ourselves for the future.”

“As we build a Climate Ready Nation, these updated data can inform coastal communities and others about current and future vulnerabilities in the face of climate change and help them make smart decisions to keep people and property safe over the long run.”

The full findings of the report — titled “Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States” — are published on the US National Ocean Service website.

Data from the publication, NASA explained, will be used by various agencies to inform planning for the impacts of future sea-level rise at the federal, state and local levels.

The findings, they added, will be used to inform the US Global Change Research Program’s Fifth National Climate Assessment, which will be published next year.

The report comes as researchers led from New Jersey’s Rutgers University have declared that 1863 was the year that sea-level rise truly began to accelerate above natural variations.

They reached this conclusion after analysing data on sea levels — collected from various sources including tide gauges, archaeological digs and sediment analysis — for the years spanning 0–2000 CE.

The sudden increase in sea levels coincides with the time previous studies have shown that human activities began significantly impacting ocean warming and glacial melt.

In fact, the team noted, sea levels were actually decreasing by 0.1 millimetre a year in the six decades before the Industrial Revolution began in 1760 — but were increasing by 14 times this amount in the period from 1940–2000.

As the researchers wrote in their paper: “Consistent with prior analyses, it is virtually certain that the global rate of rise from the most recent 60-year interval, 1940–2000 CE, was faster than all previous 60-year intervals during the Common Era.”

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications.

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