Sea Levels Will Rise in 30 Years by Same Risen in Last 100 Years: Report

Sea levels will rise in the next 30 years by the same amount they did in the past century, scientists warned in a new report Tuesday.

Sea levels along the coastline of the United State are projected to rise an average of 10 to 12 inches by 2050. That's the same amount of sea-level rise experienced since 1920, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report that provides the latest data on sea-level rise across the U.S.

Meanwhile, the sea level will likely rise by two feet by 2100—and it could rise by even more—up to another five feet—if no progress is made on cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change, according to the report.

"Failing to curb future emissions will cause even greater impact to Americans," NOAA administrator Richard Spinrad warned in a press conference.

He described the report as a "wake-up call" for the U.S., but added that it comes with a "silver lining."

"It provides us with information to act now to best position ourselves for the future," he said. "It's going to take all of us."

The higher sea levels also mean that serious flooding will occur more often, impacting the lives of millions of Americans each year. According to the report, moderate flooding, which NOAA described as "typically damaging," will occur more than 10 times as often as it does presently.

This type of flooding currently happens during severe weather, but will become more common in the future, occurring due to changes in currents or even a full moon, said NOAA National Ocean service Director Nicole LeBoeuf during the press conference. Major flooding events are also going to occur five times more often than in 2050, according to the report.

"Another way to think about this is that a single flooding event, one that now happens every four to five years on average in coastal communities in the southeast United States, will occur four to five times per year," she said. "Make no mistake. Sea level rise is upon us."

Sea levels rise 30 feet by 2050
A new NOAA report found that sea levels could rise up to a foot by 2050 due to climate change. Here, activists are seen protesting climate change in September 2019 in Washington. Samuel Corum/Getty Images

National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy warned in a statement that the U.S. and world need to "redouble" efforts to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, while also helping coastal communities become more resilient against higher sea levels.

"This new data on sea rise is the latest reconfirmation that our climate crisis—as the President has said—is blinking 'code red,'" McCarthy said.

The report is the latest dire warning about climate change, which many scientists say could upend life and cause widespread destruction. Scientists have pointed to a number of natural disasters in the past year—including California wildfires that ravaged communities and a number of devastating hurricanes—as being connected to the phenomenon.