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Rising sea level and temperature along the Northeastern Coast, U.S.

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February 26, 2013 in U.S. News

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Global warming has already had a significant impact on global sea levels and contributed to producing disastrous storms.  It has raised the ocean levels by 8 inches since 1880.  According to a study done at ClimateCentral.org, “Surging Seas”, published March 14, 2012, it is expected to rise 20 – 80 inches more this century.  By 2050, we will have as much as 4 to 19 inches of sea level rise.  This threatens every low lying coastal area in the United States as well as the rest of the world.

An article from The Guardian, “US coastal cities in danger as sea levels rise faster than expected” posted November 27th, 2012 discusses how sea level rise is occurring 60 percent faster than scientists had projected and that sea level rise has doubled the annual risk of historic flooding in the U.S. The article states that large areas of the Atlantic Coast are “hotspots” for sea-level-rise and water levels are increasing at twice the rate of most other places.  They also cite that a study by ClimateCentral.org found sea-level rise due to global warming had doubled the chance of “once in a century floods” for many locations up and down the Atlantic coasts.

In “Major storms could submerge New York City in next decade” published on November 16th, 2011, The Guardian reported on how future storms could put as much as a third of New York City underwater flooding many of the city’s tunnels and infrastructures, and destroying the state’s agricultural industries.

This article also said, “By the mid-2020s, sea level rise around Manhattan and Long Island could be up to 10 inches, assuming the rapid melting of polar ice sheets continues.”

Another consequence of global warming, as well as melting ice sheets and warmer water, is the slowing of the Gulf Stream. “East Coast Faces Rising Seas from Slowing Gulf Stream”, published by Weather.com on February 3rd 2013, discusses how sea level rise is happening at a much quicker rate in some areas than in others. Scientists implicate the rise of sea level in the east coast on the slowing of the Gulf Stream, due to the rising water temperatures and melting ice from the north. The article states that the northeasterly flow of the Gulf Stream normally pulls water away from the coast. The disruption of this “conveyor belt” keeps accelerating the rise in ocean levels along the Atlantic coast of the United States.

This article reports that New York sea level is already a foot higher than it was in 1900 and they expect that to rise by about 3 feet over the next 90 years or so, in places like New York City and Norfolk, Virginia.

The east coast was just reminded of what occurs when higher seas levels are pushed ashore by major storms such as “Superstorm” Sandy.  Hurricane Sandy set records when it devastated much of the east coast. Livescience.com released an article, “Superstorm Sandy: Facts About the Frankenstorm” on November 27th, 2012 which stated that Sandy produced a record storm surge of water into New York City. The recorded surge level at Battery Park, Manhattan reached a maximum of 13.88 feet.

The article also states, “New York Harbor’s surf also reached a record level when a buoy measured a 32.5-foot wave Monday. That wave was 6.5 feet taller than a 25-foot wave churned up by Hurricane Irene in 2011.”

Superstorm Sandy, also dubbed “Frankenstorm”, additionally set a record for the lowest barometric reading ever recorded for an Atlantic storm, at 940 millibars on Monday afternoon (Oct. 29th,2012).

In addition to warmer water temperatures and melting ice, the warmer air is adding moisture to the air which gives way to larger, stronger storms. According to Huffington Post in “Climate Change And The Blizzard: Nor’easters More Fierce With Global Warming” released on February 8th 2013, sea surface temperatures are about 2 degrees warmer than they were before 1980, which raises the potential for big snow storms by about 10 percent.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records show that the Northeast saw a 74 percent increase in precipitation during the heaviest rain and snow events from 1958 to 2011.

“Climate scientists speculate that the amount of snow and the ferocity of the storm, named Nemo, may well have ties to global warming.”

Many cities all over the Northeast recorded record snowfalls and even record high winds. Portland, Maine reported a record snowfall of 31.9 inches and Hamden, Connecticut recorded the highest snowfall of the storm at 40 inches. Along with record snowfalls in the U.S., Nemo also produced hurricane force wind gusts of 102mph in Nova Scotia, reported in “Blizzard that buried Maritimes and central Canada blasts into Newfoundland”, by EstevanMercury.ca.

Alternet.org reports in “Did the Snow Storm That Socked the Northeast Have Ties to Climate Change?”,  that climate scientists speculate that the amount of snow and the ferocity of Nemo, may very well have ties to global warming. Dr. Kevin Trenberth, from The National Center for Atmospheric Research, said “ingredients for a big snow storm include temperatures just below freezing” and moisture.

It is clear that the effects of global warming are having a significant impact on the Earth’s weather including devastating storms that have been continually slamming the Eastern Coast of the United States.

This article was published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 11:14am Eastern Time
by Gil Vazquez


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