US coasts to see up to 12” of sea level rise by 2050

latest NOAA report projects accelerated water level rise

Adobe stock photo Houston, TX flood The (U.S.) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in its 2022 update to the Sea Level Rise Technical Report has estimated that sea levels could rise by 10-12 inches by 2050.

Though actual water level projections will vary by region, the U.S. coastline may experience “as much sea level rise by the year 2050 as it witnessed in the previous hundred years.”

Also reported is the profound increase in the frequency of coastal flooding, even in the absence of storms or heavy rainfall.

By 2050, moderate flooding … is expected to occur more than 10 times as often as it does today,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, NOAA National Ocean Service Director. “(This means) a change from a single event every 2-5 years to multiple events each year, in some places.”

In addition to updates to the 2017 sea level rise projections, the recent release provides information on tide, wind, and storm-driven extreme water levels affecting current and future coastal flood risk. This data will inform a new suite of federal tools, including the NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer.

Coastal states such as Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and New Jersey are increasingly formulating Coastal Resilience Master Plans to address long-term flood risks to further inform local governments and businesses. The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) has begun its Rosethorne Tidal Protection project; to reduce flood risk from sunny or wet weather, a 7.5-foot concrete-capped floodwall and floodgates are being constructed.

The most up-to-date projections by decade for the next 100 years and beyond are based on tide gauge, satellite observations and all model ensembles from the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).