In simple terms, is Long Island sinking?
A new scientific study places Long Island in the middle of a 600-mile coastal "hotspot" that researchers say is experiencing higher rates of sea level increases. The bottom line implication is that, over time, coastal flooding will increase and ultimate result in major environmental changes.
OK, so Plainview is one of the highest points on Long Island, officially listed at an elevation of 151 feet. So why worry?
But...the study, published online Sunday in Nature Climate Change, reviewed tide data from 1950 through 2009. Scientists with the United States Geological Survey found that, despite a global average increase of 0.6 to 1 millimeter per year, sea level rates in a coastal zone stretching from Cape Hattaras, N.C. to just north of Boston increased 2 to 3.7 millimeters per year - three-to-four times the global average.
"Many people mistakenly think that the rate of sea level rise is the same everywhere as glaciers and ice caps melt, increasing the volume of ocean water, but other effects can be as large or larger than the so-called 'eustatic' rise," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt, in a statement. "As demonstrated in this study, regional oceanographic contributions must be taken into account in planning for what happens to coastal property."
The scientists determined that if global temperatures continue to rise, sea level rise increases will continue as well.
Some perspective: Bayville, site of the pretty Oyster Bay beaches on Long Island Sound, lies at 39 feet above sea level. Seaford, just north of the Atlantic, lies at 10 feet. These are places you know and love.
"Ongoing accelerated sea level rise in the hotspot will make coastal cities and surrounding areas increasingly vulnerable to flooding by adding to the height that storm surge and breaking waves reach on the coast," said Dr. Asbury (Abby) Sallenger, a USGS oceanographer who led the study.
Are you concerned about rising sea levels. If so, what do you think should be done to prepare for them? Take our poll: