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Sea Levels Rose 0.61m in US East Coast

Posted by feww on September 13, 2009

Strange Phenomena Series

Don’t have to wait for all the ice to melt “freak” ACO events could inundate world’s coastal regions at a moment’s notice!

Sea Levels Elevated along Atlantic Coast: NOAA

NOAA Co-ops tech report
ELEVATED EAST COAST SEA LEVEL ANOMALY: June – July 2009 . Source: NOAA Technical Report NOS CO-OPS 051

NOAA researchers discovered rises of 15 to 61 cm  (6 inches to 2 feet) in the sea levels along the entire Atlantic  Coast.  Having analyzed data from the relevant  tide stations and buoys along the Atlantic Coast, the scientists from the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) discovered that “a weakening of the Florida Current Transport – an oceanic current that feeds into the Gulf Stream – in addition to steady and persistent Northeast winds, contributed to this anomaly.”

In addition to the current and steady winds, elevated water levels in the latter half of June coincided with a perigean-spring tide, an extreme predicted tide when the moon is closest to the Earth during a spring tide. This tidal event added to the observed sea level anomaly, produced minor coastal flooding, and caught the attention of many coastal communities because of the lack of coastal storms during this time that normally cause such anomalies.

“The ocean is dynamic and it’s not uncommon to have anomalies,” said Mike Szabados, CO-OPS director. “What made this event unique was its breadth, intensity, and duration.”

The significant point about the discovery was the geographic extent of this event, the researchers said, which encompassed the entire East Coast. Smaller regions and estuaries along the East Coast often  experience this kind of phenomena during the summer months.

The June–July 2009 sea level anomaly is unique because northeast winds along the coast were not at a multi-year high and the Florida Current Transport was not at its low–two factors that can cause elevated sea levels. However, the coupled effect of these two forces created sea levels that were at the highest levels all along the East Coast.

Rich Edwing, deputy director for the NOAA’s CO-OPS said “the Gulf Stream slowed down,” pushing water toward the coasts, which caused the  sea levels to rise.

“Why did the Gulf Stream slow down? Why did the fall wind pattern appear earlier?” Edwing said. “We don’t have those answers.”

NOAA says further analysis is necessary to fully understand the basic phenomena that caused the event, and will  continue investigating the forces responsible for the anomalies.

[ACO: Atmospheric, Climatic, Oceanic]

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