Climate Change Will Increase Future Risk of High-tide Flooding on U.S. Coasts

The 2022 Sea Level Rise Technical Report provides the most up-to-date sea level rise projections available for all U.S. states and territories. Sea level along the U.S. coastline is projected to rise, on average, 10 – 12 inches in the next 30 years, which will be as much as the rise measured over the last 100 years. This will create a profound shift in coastal flooding over the next 30 years by causing tide and storm surge heights to increase and reach further inland. By 2050, “moderate” (typically damaging) flooding is expected to occur, on average, more than 10 times as often as it does today. About 2 feet of sea level rise along the U.S. coastline is increasingly likely between 2020 and 2100 because of emissions to date. Failing to curb future emissions could cause an additional 1.5 – 5 feet of rise for a total of 3.5 – 7 feet by the end of this century.  Dr. Sweet discusses the results of the report, as well as implications for coastal communities of the United States.

Presenter: Dr. William Sweet is a NOAA Oceanographer researching and developing products about how sea level rise affects coastal flood risk and how people perceive that risk.  He helped the U.S. Department of Defense assess coastal flood risk across their global installations, developed the latest sea level rise scenarios for the U.S. and was a lead author for Volumes 1 and 2 of the 4th U.S. National Climate Assessment.  He enjoys sailing the Chesapeake Bay and teaching his kids about the signs of sea level rise from his home in Annapolis.