North Carolina Sea Levels are Rising at Accelerating Rate

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 29 (UPI) — A U.S.-led team of scientists says the sea level rise along the North Carolina coast is accelerating.

The researchers, led by the University of Pennsylvania, found the 20th-century sea level rise to be three times higher than the rate of sea level rise occurring during the last 500 years. The scientists said the jump apparently occurred between 1879 and 1915 — a time of industrial change that may provide a direct link to human-induced climate change.

Scientists said they found the rate of relative sea level rise during the 20th century was 3 to 3.3 millimeters per year, which is higher than the usual rate of one millimeter per year. That acceleration, they said, appears consistent with other studies from the Atlantic coast, although the magnitude of the acceleration in North Carolina is larger than at sites farther north along the U.S. and Canadian Atlantic coast and may be indicative of a latitudinal trend related to Greenland ice sheet melting.

Researchers said understanding the timing and magnitude of the possible acceleration in the rate of relative sea level rise is critical for testing models of global climate change and for providing a context for 21st-century predictions.

The study appears in the journal Geology.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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