A recent scientific study has found that sea levels are rising60% faster than previously expected. Satellite data collected by US-based mathematician Grant Foster and German climatologist Stefan Rahmstorf shows that towns on both the East and West coast of the United States, including New York, Los Angeles, and much of the state of Florida are now considered “hot spots” where water levels are increasing at twice the rate of the rest of the planet.

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The startling news means millions more people are at risk of suffering unprecedented damages from flooding caused by future storms. Just how many people? The report notes that more than half of the U.S. population, in over 285 cities, live less that 1 meter above the high tide mark.

Hurricane Sandy was particularly disastrous because of a combination of high sea levels and storm surge. This “perfect storm” may become more common and widespread as sea levels across the country rise at an alarmingly rapid pace. The research, which is based on satellite data rather than wave technology, suggests that scientists have underestimated the effects of climate change.

Report co-author Grant Foster told reporters that until officials begin working on local and national storm safety, people will have to plan for the worst: “The study indicates that this is going to be as bad or worse than the worst case scenarios of the IPCC so whatever you were planning from Cape Hatteras to Cape Cod in terms of how you were preparing for sea-level rise – if you thought you had enough defenses in place, you probably need more.”

via The Guardian