Researchers Say New Jersey Shore Likely to See Unprecedented Sea Level Rise by Mid-Century

by , 12/16/13

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The fact that the Jersey Shore is susceptible to flooding is obviously nothing new but now residents may have even more cause for concern. Geoscientists at Rutgers and Tufts estimate that the New Jersey shore will likely experience a sea-level rise of about 1.5 feet by 2050 and 3.5 feet by 2100. Those unprecedented numbers could create Hurricane Sandy-like flooding conditions more regularly, unleashing record-breaking water surges on the area.

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New Jersey is already wrought with flooding issues, but scientists say the area could experience a water level rise of 11 to 15 inches higher than the average for sea-level rise globally over an entire century. The researchers estimated these numbers by reconstructing the 2,500-year record of sea levels around the New Jersey shore. By radiocarbon dating the sediment dug up in the Barnegat Bay salt marsh, a 30-mile expanse of brackish water along the northern NJ coast, the scientists were able to determine how fast the sea has been rising already.

“It’s clear from both the tide gauge and geological records that sea level has been rising in the mid-Atlantic region at a foot per century as a result of global average sea-level rise and the solid earth’s ongoing adjustment to the end of the last ice age,” said Ken Miller, a professor of earth and planetary sciences in Rutgers’ School of Arts and Sciences, in a release.

The rise in the sea is attributed to a number of factors – namely global warming melting the world’s ice sheets and warming the oceans. The scientists also say water levels are also rising by another four inches per century thanks to natural sediment compaction. What’s more, the rising tide could be further exacerbated by climate change slowing the Gulf Stream, which could cause a rise in orders of 2.3 feet by mid-century and 5.9 feet by the end of the century. The Rutgers team has also developed an interactive flood map to illustrate the sea rise effects on the New Jersey shore.

+ Rutgers University

via PhysOrg

Images © U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region and DVIDSHUB (1) (2) and Vik Nanda

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