Strong waves precede Sandy in Longport. After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, scientists decided to help local officials plan for such scenarios by advancing recent research. Photo: MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer

By Sandy Bauers
8 January 2014

(Philadelphia Inquirer) – As the planet warms, one of the biggest questions is how fast sea level will rise.

A team of Rutgers University researchers has attempted to answer that question and localize it by studying past sea-level rise along the East Coast, as well as other factors that could influence what happens along the New Jersey Shore.

In recently published studies, they conclude that sea level at the Shore - already rising faster than at any time in the last 4,300 years - could go up by 11 to 15 inches more than the global average by 2100.

While levels worldwide will generally increase less than a foot by 2050, those at the Shore will likely rise 1.5 feet, according to a mid-range scenario. By 2100, local levels could climb 3.5 feet, bringing unprecedented flooding.

The research "clearly indicates that New Jersey is one of the regions of highest concern in the United States, as far as risk from sea-level rise is concerned," said Ben Strauss, an expert at the independent research organization Climate Central in Princeton. "This is really about how soon - not whether - sea level will rise that much."

Strauss was not involved in the Rutgers research. However, pairing it with his own analysis, he noted that Atlantic City alone has $23 billion worth of real estate sitting below a five-foot flood level. That magnitude could have a two-in-three chance of being seen in any given year by midcentury, according to the scientists' estimates. [more]

Study finds sea levels rising fast; concerns grow about Shore

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