Tracking, predicting & planning for sea-level rise


Fire crews navigate high waters in Slaughter Beach, Del., in 2008 after the Delaware coast flooded as a result of a coastal storm. (AP file Photo/Chuck Snyder)

Hour 1

The good news: The drive to the beach is getting shorter. The bad news is the time isn’t shrinking, but the distance. Scientists increasingly believe sea level is on the rise, and have rising evidence to prove it. BENJAMIN P. HORTON, director of the Sea Level Research Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, recently announced that the rate of sea-level rise along the East Coast in the last 100 years has been the fastest of the last 2,000 years. His team studied microscopic fossils of depth-dependent species in East Coast salt marshes, creating an underwater parallel for the tree-ring analysis long relied upon by landlocked climate scientists. Likewise, RAYMOND NAJJAR,  professor of meteorology at Penn State, has studied how climate change and sea-level rise are shaping up to affect the East Coast, with an emphasis on the estuaries. And governments are already preparing for sea-level rise, especially including Delaware, a tiny state dominated by shoreline along the Delaware Bay, Atlantic Ocean  and inland waterways, all vulnerable to sea-level rise. Leading the First State’s planning for sea-level rise is SARAH COOKSEY, manager of Delaware Coastal Programs.

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