New Report Indicates Rapid Sea Level Rise in 20th Century - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

New Report Indicates Rapid Sea Level Rise in 20th Century

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Scientists predict Maryland's sea level will be three feet higher by 2100 (Photo:WBOC) Scientists predict Maryland's sea level will be three feet higher by 2100 (Photo:WBOC)

CAMBRIDGE, Md.- A new report shows that sea level rise was higher in the past 100 years than any other time in the previous 2,700 years.  Those effects are felt even more on Delmarva, where not only is the water rising, but the land is sinking.

Flooding continues to be a problem along Delmarva's shorelines, and it has only gotten worse over the past century, according to Dr. Bill Dennison from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

"This is truly unprecedented.  Sea level has gone up and down in geologic history.  But this current rate of sea level rise is something that's really quite new, and something we've never had to cope with as a species before," said Dennison.

Sea level rose globally by 6 inches in the past century, a number not seen since at least 800 B.C.E. according to the report, which was written by climate scientists from across the country. However, in Maryland, the sea level increased by a foot due to the land sinking.  The forecast for 2100's sea level rise is also unprecedented.

"We're talking, I mean most of the estimates are on the order of 3 feet by the end of the century, so that's less than 100 years," Dennison said. "One of the things that we have to be concerned about, is all of that sea level rise has already been set in motion by the industrial revolution and the last 200 years, so we're not going to change that."

Meaning even if everyone began driving hybrids tomorrow, a 3-foot increase in sea level on Delmarva still seems to be the peninsula's future.  That's not to say we should keep driving Hummers, however.

"The violent storms that we're seeing, the snowstorms, rainstorms, tornadoes in February, hurricanes in places that have never seen them before, those are all indications of a dramatically-changed climate," Dennison said.

Dennison said the sea level rise is not solely due to ice melt. He said warmer sea temperatures cause water to expand, taking up more space. Combine that with Delmarva's sinking landmass and a Gulf Stream that is pushing more water toward the shore, you get significant sea level rise on the peninsula.

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