Sea level rising, but it’s not time to sell the beach house yet

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer as Delaware Valley residents head down the shore.

Sea levels at the Jersey shore are expected to rise 3 feet by the end of the century. But is Armageddon at hand?

Two things are happening that threaten the stretch of beach along the shore. New Jersey is sinking, and sea levels are rising. That means more beach erosion, a loss of marshlands and perhaps stronger storms. But Rutgers University professor Ken Miller says it’s not time to sell your beach house.

“Is this going to happen in the next decade? The answer is no. Is this going to happen by the end of my mortgage? No,” said Miller. “Will this impact my grandkids? And the answer is yes.”

To maintain the beaches, Miller said, will require more money for beach replenishment. Homeowners can also expect long-range weather predictions to raise insurance rates.

“Now you’re sitting there on your deck looking at the ocean or the bay, and you realize well there is a cost to maintain this lifestyle,” said Miller. “The cost in terms of beach replenishment, the cost in terms of more flooding, the cost of higher insurance rates. It doesn’t mean you should evacuate the Jersey Shore and kill real estate prices, but there is a cost.”

Miller, a professor of earth and planetary sciences, said the ocean could rise a foot by 2050. By comparison, he said, the sea level at Atlantic City rose about a foot in the last century. Atlantic City hasn’t gone anywhere, but without beach-replenishment projects, Miller says, there wouldn’t be any sand to on which to sunbathe.

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