As the climate warms, coastal communities are faced with sea level rise. But some are seeing faster rates than others.
For example, in Los Angeles, local sea level rise measures only about 1 millimeter per year. But on the coast of Louisiana, it’s about 6 millimeters a year.
“There’s a couple reasons why the rates of relative sea level rise are just very different along the United States coastline,” says William Sweet of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
He says some parts of the ocean are naturally higher because local currents and winds push the water. The ocean along the U.S. East Coast is also warmer than the West Coast, and warmer water expands more.
“The other component that’s very real and very important for us as humans on land is: What is the land doing?” Sweet says.
In some places, the land is slowly rising because it’s still rebounding from being pushed down by enormous glaciers during the last ice age. This rebounding land reduces the local impact of sea level rise.
But in other places, the land is sinking, which increases the local impact of sea level rise.
So although seas are rising everywhere, some coastal areas will be impacted more than others.
Reporting credit: Ethan Freedman/ChavoBart Digital Media