Skip to content

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

February 24, 2022

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).

Kisters commonly works with federal, state and local flood management agencies to monitor and warn of storm-related flooding. We also have well-engineered water level sensors to monitor sunny day flooding, when heavy rainfall isn’t the cause. The 3-in-1 noncontact discharge radar sensors simultaneously measure surface water velocity, water level, and discharge when you need to efficiently monitor more parameters at a single site.