US coasts could see century’s-worth of sea-level rise in 30 years, NOAA report says

Multi-agency study led by NOAA predicts a foot of sea-level rise along parts of coastal US by 2050

A report issued Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts the U.S. coastline will see as much sea-level rise in 30 years as experienced in the past century.

According to the Sea Level Rise Technical Report, scientists believe the coastline of the U.S. and its territories could see waters rise between 10 and 12 inches by 2050. Amounts could vary region because of land shifts, according to the report.

NOAA Administrator Rick Spinard said during a news conference Tuesday that conservative projections show a sea-level rise of at least 2 feet by 2100.


National Ocean Service Director Nicole LeBoeuf said these increases will likely lead to a 10-fold increase in the frequency of damaging coastal flooding events that happen outside of storms or heavy rain.

"These numbers mean a change from a single event every 2-5 years to multiple events each year, in some places," LeBoeuf said.

The report provides sea-level rise projections by decade for all 50 states and U.S. territories for the next 100 years, and includes data about tides, wind and storm-driven extremes affecting the coast.

Scientists said an improved understanding of elements that contribute to sea rises, such as loss of ice sheets and subsidence of land, has led to more certainty about what will happen by mid-century.

According to the report, both the East and Gulf coasts of the U.S. are expected to see higher than average sea-level rises by 2050. The West Coast and U.S. islands and territories should see rises that are near average.

Relative sea-level rise, in meters, in 2050 for the Intermediate-Low (left) and Intermediate-High (right) scenarios relative to the year 2000. (NOAA)

"For businesses along the coast, knowing what to expect and how to plan for the future is critical," said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. "These updated projections will help businesses, and the communities they support, understand risks and make smart investments in the years ahead."

Officials said the report is also meant to help state, regional and local governments to build infrastructure in places while considering future sea rises.

Read the entire report at