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U.S. Atlantic Coast Target of Higher Sea Level Rises June 29, 2012
Coastal flooding
Cape Cod during coastal flooding brought on by storm surge from Hurricane Irene on August 28, 2011.
Sea levels along a 600-mile stretch of the U.S. Atlantic coast are rising much faster than elsewhere around the world, according to a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The agency cautions that a "hot spot” for climbing sea levels has developed from near Boston, southward to Cape Hatteras, N.C.

While computer models have long projected that changing ocean currents will amplify the ocean’s reaction to global warming along the Eastern Seaboard, this is the first report to show that it’s already occurring.

There have been rises in sea level between about 3 and 5 inches along the northeastern U.S. coast since 1950, compared to an average 2-inch rise globally.

“Cities in the hot spot, like Norfolk, New York and Boston, already experience damaging floods during relatively low- intensity storms,” said USGS oceanographer Asbury Sallenger.

Writing in the journal Nature Climate Change, Sallenger says that the rate of sea level rise is not only faster in the Atlantic hot spot, but it’s also accelerating much faster than in most other places.

Photo: NOAA