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Drivers and improved predictability of sea level rise along the U.S. Southeast Coast


Sea level rise along the U.S. Southeast Coast has seen a dramatic increase since 2010, causing concern for coastal communities. Using observations and climate models to analyze this rapid trend, scientists discovered that multidecadal variations in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and changes in wind-driven ocean currents significantly contributed to this rise. These factors, combined with long-term global warming, created a perfect storm that accelerated sea level rise in this region.

Researchers showed that AMOC variations could predict regional sea level changes up to five years in advance, while wind-driven changes were predictable up to two years ahead. These results, published in npj Climate and Atmospheric Science, offer a promising predictive framework for the southeast coast. 

The lead author on this study, Liping Zhang of NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), is supported by a grant from the Climate Program Office’s Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) Program. The project focuses on detecting changes in AMOC and potential impacts on sea level and storm surges over the U.S. East Coast, with an overarching goal to help communities take action to reduce damage and losses from future weather and climate extremes. A key aspect of the initiative, including this study, is to test the quality of the information produced by NOAA’s GFDL’s climate model, called the Seamless System for Prediction and EArth System Research (SPEAR), to simulate near-term and future high-impact extreme climate events. The predictive ability discovered in this work is crucial for protecting vulnerable coastal areas from the effects of rising sea levels.

Read the paper »

For more information, contact Clara Deck.

Image credit: Public Domain, Pixabay

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