Global climate change

Substantial acceleration in sea level rise along portions of the US East Coast since late 20th century

By Brett Anderson, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
11/27/2017, 2:08:14 PM

Share this article:

New research has determined that there has been a substantial acceleration in sea level rise along the southern United States East Coast since the early 1990s.

A chunk of ice along the Greenland Ice Sheet. Courtesy NOAA.

Some of the sea level change rates along the East Coast have doubled since 1990, according to James Davis of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.

This study shows that the influence of melting ice on Greenland and Antarctica alone would account for an increase in the rate of sea level rise on the East Coast of 0.04 to 0.15 mm per year, which is equivalent to 0.2 meters (7.8 inches) of sea level rise along the northern U.S. East Coast and .75 meters (2.5 feet) along the southern U.S. East Coast over the next century.

As ice vanishes, the loss of its gravitational pull lowers sea level nearby, even as sea level rises farther away.

The research team used tidal gauge data from along the U.S. East Coast to perform this study. However, unlike earlier studies, this research project included the loss of ice mass from Greenland and Antarctica among the causes of sea level acceleration.

Modeling the 25-year-period since 1990 produces an acceleration of sea level rise in good agreement with the gauge observations when melting from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are included, according to the NASA report

"When you leave the ice out, you get a much worse fit," Davis said.

Another finding from this and other recent studies is that changes on land could be the key to the sea level rise.

“One of the best ways to tell what the impact of the (ice) mass loss in Greenland and Antarctica is not to measure sea level, but to measure what is going on in Greenland and Antarctica from GRACE (the twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites),” Davis said.


Another great site has been put together by NASA's JPL, which shows sea level change simulations at certain coastal stations around the world. Be sure to check out NASA's Sea Level Change portal here.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

Global climate change