Sea level rise acceleration along the U. S. east coast and increased flooding in the urban coast

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014: 9:45 AM
Room C211 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Larry P. Atkinson, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA; and T. Ezer

Over the past few decades sea level rise (SLR) rates along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States have increased, resulting in increased frequency and length of flooding. Whereas in the past flooding occurred mostly during big storms, the additional sea level rise now causes flooding in the urban coast even during high spring tide events or minor coastal storm events. The hours of flooding per year in some areas, such as Norfolk, VA, has increased by a factor of nearly x10 over the past 50 years. Recent papers (e.g., Ezer et al., JGR-2013) strongly suggest that the recent SLR acceleration (mostly north of Cape Hatteras, NC) is caused by slowing of the Gulf Stream as measured by altimetry data offshore and cable transport in the Straits of Florida. These findings are consistent with climate models and climate assessments that project a slowdown of the North Atlantic circulation due to warming temperatures and melting ice in polar and subpolar regions. This paper will show new calculations of sea level rise acceleration rates and compare them to local hours of flooding in coastal cities.