World Bulletin/News Desk
Seas could rise higher along the California coastline this century than in other places in the world, increasing the risk of flooding and storm damage, dune erosion and wetland destruction, the U.S. National Research Council reported Friday.
Rising sea levels have long been seen as a consequence of climate change, because as the world warms, glaciers melt and contribute water to the Earth's oceans. At the same time, ocean waters tend to expand as they heat, pushing sea levels higher.
The report looked at how much seas could rise by 2100 along the U.S. West Coast, and found that the water off California's coast from the Mexican border to Cape Mendocino could rise between 16.5 inches (42 cm) and 66 inches (167 cm) by century's end, compared to what they were in 2000.
The high end of the range is higher than the projection for the global rise in sea levels, which runs from about 20 inches (50 cm) to 55 inches (140 cm), scientists said in the report.
That global range is higher than predictions made in 2007 by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: between 7 inches (18 cm) and 23 inches (59 cm), with an additional 6.7 inches (17 cm) if rapid changes in ice flow are part of the calculation.
But melting ice and expanding oceans are not the only forces at work, said Robert Dalrymple, a professor of civil engineering at Johns Hopkins University who headed the panel of scientists who contributed to the report.
"There are two components of regional sea level rise," Dalrymple told reporters in a telephone briefing. "What is the land doing in terms of moving up and down, and what is the sea level doing in terms of moving up?"
As global seas rise, some land may rise too, due to the movement of tectonic plates or the rebounding of land that used to be covered by ancient ice sheets. Without the heavy ice to weigh it down, some areas in northern Washington are rising, the report said.
"If the land is rising, then to the residents on that land, it looks like the sea level is falling," Dalrymple said.
Other factors include periodic ocean circulation patterns El Nino and La Nina, the scientists said.
Sea level rise as projected increases risk of damage from floods and storms, which ride into land on higher ocean water. It also endangers wetlands and could force dunes and bluffs to retreat as rising waters erode them, the report said.
While the projected sea level rise for northern California, Oregon and Washington state is lower than for the rest of California, the researchers cautioned that an earthquake of magnitude 8 or more could cause waters to rise by an additional 39 inches (1 meter).
This kind of strong earthquake, which could cause parts of the coast to quickly subside, is a possibility off the northern West Coast, the scientists said. Such quakes occur every few hundred to 1,000 years.
The study was commissioned by various state agencies of the three states, as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Google is being accused of using practices aimed at preserve its market dominance
Quantum spin liquid validates theory first suggested in 1973
International Civil Aviation Organization 'recognizes that sub-orbital and outer space flights will foster new tourism and transport market'
A joint European-Russian mission aiming to search for traces of life on Mars blasted off on Monday for the start of a seven-month unmanned space journey to the Red Planet.
Scott Kelly has spent more time in space than any other American and has returned back from his mission
Administrator touts success in planetary study, deep-space experiments, aviation innovation
A man left brain-dead after an experimental drug trial in France has died, local media report.
Facebook founder to donate majority of fortune over lifetime to newly formed charity
Facebook will appeal a date privacy ruling in Belgium that forces the social media giant to stop collecting digital information about people who are non-members
Japanese, Chinese, Irish scientists win 2015 Nobel prize in medicine for malaria and parasite research
Discovery could have major implications for pursuit of life on the red planet
Lawsuit sheds light on no poaching policy at Silicon Valley’s biggest companies
Searches for oncoming storms will display information such as maps, forecasts, reminders and preparedness instructions
New service unveiled as survey finds Americans having hard time navigating smartphone etiquette
Turkcell, Vodafone and Avea bid total of over €1.14 billion for the right to use frequencies on the new network