Asbury H. Sallenger Jr, Kara S. Doran, Peter A. Howd

Nature Climate Change

Published date June 24, 2012

Hotspot of accelerated sea-level rise on the Atlantic coast of North America

  • States climate warming does not force sea-level rise (SLR) at the same rate everywhere; rather, there are spatial variations of SLR superimposed on a global average rise
  • States these variations are forced by dynamic processes arising from circulation and variations in temperature and/or salinity, and by static equilibrium processes, arising from mass redistributions changing gravity and the Earth’s rotation and shape
  • Presents evidence of recently accelerated SLR in a unique 1,000-km-long hotspot on the highly populated North American Atlantic coast north of Cape Hatteras and shows that it is consistent with a modelled fingerprint of dynamic SLR
  • Finds that between 1950–1979 and 1980–2009, SLR rate increases in this northeast hotspot were ~ 3–4 times higher than the global average.
  • Uses models to project SLR by 2100 at New York City
  • Finds that SLR superimposed on storm surge, wave run-up and set-up will increase the vulnerability of coastal cities to flooding, and beaches and wetlands to deterioration