NOAA Expecting Sea Levels In Northeast To Exceed Global Average By Year 2100

May 29, 2017

A national climate agency is expecting the Northeast to have higher sea levels than the global average by the year 2100.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report this year that analyzed different scenarios of sea levels rising globally, ranging from a "low" of one foot to the "extreme" case of eight feet. In every scenario, the Northeast region is expected to have about 25 percent higher sea levels than the global average by 2100. 

William Sweet, NOAA oceanographer and lead author of the report, said one of reasons the Northeast is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise is because of its distance from melting ice sheets in Antarctica. 

Sweet said the ice sheets have their own gravitational pull on the ocean. As they melt, that force is readjusting, causing more water to be released toward land that is farther away from the ice sheets. 

"The gravitational adjustments will be such that it'll exacerbate sea level rise along the Northeast Atlantic," Sweet said. 

Sweet said other factors include a change in land elevation as a result of the last ice age and a change in ocean circulation due to warmer ocean temperatures.

Sweet said although this report looks into the future, sea level rise is already impacting the Northeast with more frequent flooding.