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UD report predicts sea level rise will continue

Tides expected to increase 2 to 5 feet over next 100 years
December 20, 2017

The latest University of Delaware study on sea level rise predicts tides will continue rising 2 to 5 feet over the next 100 years, and communities need to continue preparing for it.

“The concern is more prominent now than ever,” said John Callahan, a Delaware Geological Survey climate scientist and chair of the Delaware Sea Level Rise Technical Committee.

The 2017 study picks up from a 2009 study that predicted roughly the same level of sea rise by the year 2100.

Callahan said new international scientific studies on ocean warming and similar national studies helped UD prepare its latest assessment for Delaware. Community leaders and planners should continue to consider sea level rise when planning developments and infrastructure projects, he said.

Consumers should also take note of potential sea rise.

“When you're buying a home, you want to know what's going to happen in the next 30 years,” he said.

Low-lying land is susceptible to flooding, and homes and roads in those areas can be significantly affected, he said. Flood plain maps can help property owners and community planners prepare for rising tides, he said.

Callahan said the earth has moved into a warming period that will be a factor for at least the next 100 years. After that, he said, scientists will reassess sea level rise and global warming information available. He said earth is in an interglacial period between ice ages, although it is unknown when or if the planet will enter another ice age period. “We don't know how long we will continue in this warm period,” Callahan said.

Callahan said the next UD sea level study may come out sooner than the eight years it took between the 2009 and 2017 studies.

Much will depend on available data in the future.

“If things are significantly different, we need to re-evaluate Delaware,” he said.