On Tuesday, the US got a wake-up call about sea level rise in the form of a major new federal report. The interagency study, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, forecasts that by 2050, sea levels along US coastlines will be about a foot higher than they were in 2000. That increase will be even sharper in Boston and elsewhere in the Northeast: The region is likely to see 16 inches of sea level rise compared with 2000 levels.
Without urgent action to curb planet-warming pollution, sea levels in the Northeast could rise by almost two feet by 2050. That’s significant — sea levels in the region have risen by less than one foot in the last century.
The report, which provides the most concrete national sea level projections to date, forecasts three to six days of moderate high tide flooding a year by 2050 in the Northeast, whereas the national average will be four days. Boston already experiences some of the worst high-tide flooding in the nation. In the later part of the century, things will get even worse. By 2100, under a worst-case scenario where emissions keep increasing, researchers estimate that sea levels around Boston could rise by 6.4 feet. Even with major climate policies in place, the region could see sea levels pushed up by more than 2 feet by the end of the century.