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Rising sea levels: Is global warming making the US East Coast a ‘hot spot?’

A recent study released by the USGS finds that much of the east coast of the US between Boston, MA and Cape Hatteras, NC is experiencing sea-level rise three to four times faster than the global average. The models show that warmer water in the North Atlantic and increasing freshwater input from melting ice in Greenland tends to slow ocean-circulation patterns resulting in a more enhanced rate of sea-level rise along this part of the coast. According to the study, led by Dr. Sallenger of the USGS, sea level rose 3.8mm/yr along the east coast “hot spot” between 1970 and 2009, compared to the global average of 0.98mm/yr. No significant differences were found either north of Boston or south of Cape Hatteras. However, coastal communities within this “hot spot” are likely to experience increased vulnerability to damage from storm surges and high surf.

Gary Monitz

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