Sea Levels Rising Fastest in a "Northeast Hot Spot"

Jun 28, 2012

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey say that in the past 20 years, the sea level has risen more in an area they call the "Northeast hot spot" than anywhere else on the continent, a finding they say was unexpected.

“We were interested in whether sea level rise was accelerating within the United States,” said Asbury Sallenger, lead author of the report published in Nature Climate Change this weekend. “That’s become a bit of a controversial question both among scientists and in the public.”

Globally and in most of North America, sea levels are rising at a steady rate of 1.5-2 millimeters per year. But according to the new study, in a 1,000-km span between central North Carolina and the Boston area, they could be rising as much as half a centimeter per year.

“We found a surprising result, really,” Sallenger said. “That’s the only place that this is occurring.”

The study’s authors think the East Coast sea levels are more affected than other regions because currents that run from South to North along the Eastern seaboard are also slowing down due to global climate change patterns. A slower “circulation” in this part of the Atlantic Ocean would lead to sea levels rising at a faster rate than in other areas.

For more on this story, visit the Connecticut Mirror.