East Coast saw ‘unprecedented’ sea level surge

Much of the East Coast of the United States saw its sea level rise about 5 inches between 2009 and 2010, researchers said.

In a new study published in Nature Communications, researchers called the magnitude of sea-level rise “unprecedented” and “very unusual.”

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In the known history of sea-level rise, such an increase is likely to happen only once every 850 years, the study found.

The event caused what was, at the time, an unexplained increase in flooding and abnormally high tides in the northern United States and part of Canada.

Researchers said climate change was a major factor in the sharp rise but not the only one. A shift in ocean currents along with persistent winds helped the ocean rise.

“This is a very extreme event,” researcher Jianjun Yin of the University of Arizona told The Washington Post. “The sea level has since dropped after that spike, but it is still much higher than it was when the spike began in 2009.”

Scientists also concluded that climate change will likely exacerbate sea-level surges, and events similar to the one that hit the East Coast will become more common.