Outer Banks Under Threat: Report Says Sea Levels Will Continue To Rise

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In 2010 a report warned that sea level at the Outer Banks could rise as much as 39 inches by 2100. This prompted Republicans to demand a new report, hoping it would show that sea level rise wouldn’t accelerate. The new report is out and once again says that sea levels will continue to rise and will likely accelerate over the next decades. From the article,

A new scientific report warns that the sea is rising at widely varying rates along the North Carolina shore – ranging by 2045 from a possible low of 4 inches at Southport to as much as 12.1 inches on the northern Outer Banks.

The N.C. Coastal Resources Commission requested the 30-year forecast, released Wednesday in draft form, after the General Assembly rejected a 2010 report and ordered a moratorium on new regulations and plans related to sea-level rise.

North Carolina becomes the first state with a comprehensive forecast that shows the sea rising at different rates along its coast. Scientists have known for years about big differences – shaped by forces in the ocean and deep in the earth – between the northern Outer Banks and North Carolina’s southern shoreline.

Tide gauges show that the ocean has risen faster in recent decades at Duck, north of Nags Head (about 4.5 millimeters per year) than farther south at Wilmington and Southport (about 2 mm per year – close to the average annual global rate of 1.7 mm).

The northern Outer Banks are sinking slowly. This corner of the state lies in a part of the North American continent that is subsiding in response to geological forces dating from the last Ice Age, about 200 centuries ago.

In addition, oceanographers have spotted a link between fluctuations in the Gulf Stream – its strength and position offshore – and different rates of flooding and sea-level rise along the U.S. coast. This great ocean current is weakening and slowing down, and scientists say the change is pushing the seas higher along the mid-Atlantic coast north of Cape Hatteras.

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