EAST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Sea levels are rising at the fastest rate in 3,000 years and will impact every location along U.S. coastlines, according to a newly released report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other government agencies.
“The United States is expected to experience as much sea-level rise in 30 years as we saw over the span of the entire last century,” NOAA administrator Dr. Richard Spinrad said.
In the next 30 years, experts expect sea levels to rise about 10 to 12 inches.
“[The rise] will create a profound increase in the frequency of coastal flooding even in the absence of storms or heavy rainfall,” Nicole LeBoeuf with NOAA said.
The agency says the rising seawater will impact everywhere on U.S. coasts, causing sewer systems to be overwhelmed and water to bubble up and flood streets.
Dave Levenduski has been experiencing the beautiful Connecticut shoreline since the 1960s. He’s seen the changes storms and increasing sea levels have brought to the coast.
“So, at least 30 times a year, maybe, that the road has an inch or two of water up to two feet of water,” Levenduski said.
The Long Island Sound may be an entire foot higher in 2050 than it is now. So, what does that mean? Previously minor flooding events will be moderate ones, moderate storms will cause major flooding, and storms like Sandy and Irene would cause catastrophic flooding, not just at the beach but several miles inland.
If these findings come true, it could not only change the landscape but change the mindset of residents who love to live close to the water.
Experts said the seawater will sterilize farms and severely damage U.S. ports and military bases.
NOAA said these changes would hurt the economy. About 40% of Americans live within 60 miles of the coast and many things that Americans eat, use and wear come through those ports.
“By 2050, moderate flooding — flooding that typically damages property and commerce — is expected to occur 10 times as often as it does today.”
Spinrad says this report should be a wake-up call. Doing nothing, he added, will be even more catastrophic.
“This will happen no matter what we do,” Spinard said. “If emissions continue at their current pace, it’s likely that we will see at least two feet of sea-level rise by the end of this century along the U.S. coastline,” Spinrad said.
Alexandra Limon with KOIN contributed to this report.