delware environmental institute

News Journal: Threat of rise in seas grows

News Journal: Threat of rise in seas grows

Global sea levels are expected to rise by as much as 6.6 feet by the end of this century, a new estimate that increases the flooding threat of future storms like Sandy and expands the risk to more of the nation’s military, energy and commercial assets near the ocean, the U.S. government reported Thursday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s latest assessment included a worst-case, end-of-century rise that is more than three times higher than the most-recent United Nations outlook, and twice the mid-range number currently in use by Delaware officials for climate change and sea-level rise planning efforts.

Regardless of the extent of global warming and efforts to control it, NOAA also pointed out that oceans will continue to rise after 2100. The agency reports that 8 million people live in U.S. coastal areas at risk of flooding.

Despite uncertainty about the extent of sea-level rise, “what we do know is that higher mean sea levels will increase the frequency, magnitude and duration of flooding” from storms, says co-author and NOAA scientist Adam Parris. He says the biggest uncertainty is the amount of water that will come from melting glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica.