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Study: Long Island in Sea Level 'Hotspot'

A new study finds that a broad coastal zone is prone to higher rates of rising sea levels: Is Long Island sinking?

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:

Joe Dowd (Editor) June 27, 2012 at 06:31 AM
I think this is an issue, but not Armageddon. My feeling is that, over time, we'll invest in the infrastructure needed to prevent catastrophe. What do you think?
John Joyce June 27, 2012 at 08:41 AM
I'll have to receive further info on the rising of the water, Hopefully the analysis is already underway so we know about the immediacy of the problem .
Hikerr June 27, 2012 at 08:49 AM
I'm waiting to cash in on my waterfront property in West Hills.
Kelly Hines June 27, 2012 at 02:45 PM
I agree with you in some respects Joe, however, since Sea Level Rise and eustatic rise can be compared to the "attack of a giant snail" happening in barely noticeable increments over a long timeframe, it is difificult to prioritize the direction of funding to re-site infrastructure out of harms way when so many other issues have a more immediate feel. Will we wait for disaster to strike before we relocate our homes, hospitals, evacuation routes, and upgrade our sewer systems, septic systems, cesspools, treatment plants, powerlines etc? Or will we invest a LOT of time and money in smart planning now? Without the urgency of "armageddon", I'm afraid these things won't be accomplished without disaster first.
TheGreek June 27, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Just like they did in New Orleans?
Joe Dowd (Editor) June 27, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Kelly: Very good insights. I think waiting too long to act could be disastrous.

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