Researchers at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science are launching new web-based “report cards” to monitor and forecast changes in sea level at 32 localities along the U.S. coastline from Maine to Alaska. They plan to update the report cards in January of each year, with projections out to the year 2050.
The lead on the project, VIMS emeritus professor John Boon, says the report cards are designed to add value by providing sea-level updates that are more frequent and localized than those generated by NOAA or other scientific bodies. Boon and colleagues also take a statistical approach that incorporates evidence for recent acceleration in the rate of sea-level change at many U.S. tide-gauge stations.
Boon and his team furthermore stress their use of relative sea-level measurements–changes in water level relative to the land surface on which people live and work–rather than the absolute sea-level measures used in many global models and predictions. The relative sea-level rise in Virginia and other East and Gulf coast areas is due to both rising water and sinking land.