It’s good to know that North Carolina coastal scientists are starting work on an official state forecast for sea-level rise in the future. But David Kesterson wonders about North Carolina’s past:
“How much has the sea level risen in recent years?”
Kesterson posed his question by email after reading my blog post about plans by the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission science panel to start work next week on a 30-year forecast for sea-level rise, and about a new prediction that sea-level rise will cause heavy flooding on the North Carolina coast in coming decades.
I relayed his question to a science panel member: Spencer Rogers, who is a coastal erosion and construction specialist for N.C. Sea Grant, a coastal research and education program.
The short answer to Kesterson’s question is this:
It depends on where you stand on the North Carolina shoreline. Sea levels have risen in the past 90 years about 15 inches at Duck on the northern Outer Banks, and about 7 inches at Wilmington.
The numbers have varied considerably on the North Carolina coast – more than many people would have guessed – partly because the northern end of our coast is part of a big land mass that has been sinking over past centuries (this is why Norfolk has a terrible flooding problem). But not our southern coast.
Here is the long answer from Spencer Rogers.
Thanks to Spencer Rogers for the answer, and to David Kesterson for the question.