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You are here News Environment Sea-level rise 'accelerating' along U.S. coasts, report warns

Sea-level rise 'accelerating' along U.S. coasts, report warns

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Sea level rise accelerating along coast

Worldwide, sea level has risen about 8 inches since 1880 but, unlike water in a bathtub, it doesn't rise evenly. In the past 100 years, it has climbed about a foot or more in some U.S. cities because of ocean currents and land subsidence.

Here's why: As the Earth's temperature warms, so do the seas. Heat-trapping greenhouse gases cause more land ice (glaciers and ice sheets) to melt and water to expand. Warmer water simply takes up more room than cooler water.

Scientists say global warming will be the primary cause of future sea-level rise. Their greatest uncertainty is how quickly the massive West Antarctic ice sheet will melt.

The current acceleration in rates of sea-level rise began around 2013 or 2014, the report says, likely associated with ocean dynamics and ice-sheet loss. In 2019, rates of sea-level rise accelerated at all 21 of the stations studied along the U.S. East and Gulf coasts, and at seven of the eight monitored stations along the U.S. West Coast.

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