Tulane researchers say sea levels are rising faster than expected. Gulf Coast communities from the Florida Panhandle to East Texas are most at risk.
One of the authors of the Tulane study says the Earth's crust underneath the Mississippi Delta is sinking, but not as fast as previously believed. But researcher Torbjorn Tornqvist says the Gulf of Mexico is rising faster than feared, and washing away more shoreline.
“Sea level in the past century has been rising about five times faster than it did in, say, the 1,000-year period that preceded it.”
Tornqvist says researchers performed extensive testing in southwest Louisiana, coring and collecting samples, conducting surveys and gathering accurate elevation numbers.
“Unfortunately if we look at the amount of sea level rise along the Gulf Coast in the last century it’s been somewhere a little bit over eight inches. It’s very, very likely that in the next century it’s going to be quite a bit more. And the more pessimistic predictions think of rates of magnitudes that could be as much as three to five feet.”
Tornqvist says climate change that’s melting ice caps must now be considered a major local and international concern because sea levels will certainly keep rising.
“States like Louisiana that are arguably going to be the first victims within the United States of climate change – and in fact you could say that we already are – we really need to step forward and take the lead in this.”
The study is published in the journal “Earth and Planetary Science Letters.”