Rising sea levels make the Gulf Coast more vulnerable to storm surge associated with hurricanes, said Dr. Torbjorn Tornqvist, chairman of the Tulane University Department of Earth and Environmental Science, who has published research on sea level rise and abrupt climate change. “Even if the hurricane climate wouldn’t change, the impact of hurricanes will become increasingly severe because higher sea levels have made the region more vulnerable.”
Tornqvist said negative impacts from sea level rise are already occurring; this is not just something expected to happen in some point in the distant future.
“Of course, it is very likely that the impacts in the future (i.e., the next couple of decades and beyond) will get worse,” Tornqvist said.
Looking back at predictions of global sea-level rise made a few decades ago, the actual rate of sea-level rise that has happened since is following the more pessimistic scenario, Tornqvist said. Globally averaged rates are currently about 3 millimeters per year.
“Along the U.S. Gulf Coast, the rate of sea-level rise in the past century has already been four times higher than during the previous millennium (i.e., before the industrial revolution),” he said.
Gulf Coast Business Journal