Rising sea levels threaten New Jersey
(Reuters) Rising sea levels caused by global warming could shrink New Jersey by up to 3 percent in the next 100 years, U.S. scientists warned on Wednesday.
The Princeton University researchers also projected that as much as 9 percent of the state's low-lying land could be hit by periodic coastal flooding in a trend that would devastate property, disrupt wildlife, erode beaches, and salinate drinking water in populated areas.
"Sea level rise is a significant and growing threat to New Jersey," Princeton professors Matthew Cooper, Michael Beevers and Michael Oppenheimer wrote in the report titled "Future Sea Level Rise and the New Jersey Coast."
Coastal development, which has surged in recent years, is increasingly susceptible to inundation by rising sea waters, the erosion of beaches and low-lying areas, and storm-induced flooding, the report said.
New Jersey's coastal counties, which contain about 60 percent of the state's 8.6 million people, are vulnerable to rising sea levels because of a flat coastal plain, a gently sloping shoreline and barrier islands, beaches and salt marshes.
The combination can produce extensive shoreline changes with relatively small rises in sea level, the report said.
New Jersey authorities have responded to the threat by taking steps such as reinforcing flood-prone structures and building up dunes, but those efforts are likely to fail, it said.
The best response to rising sea levels is to restrict development in vulnerable coastal areas, the researchers concluded.
The authors called for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, which many scientists believe lead to global warming, as the most effective way of reducing the rate of sea-level rise.
Cutting emissions would have a limited effect on sea levels over the next 50 years, but it could slow the rate by 2100 and beyond, the report said.
Worldwide, sea levels are expected to rise between 0.09 and 0.88 meter (0.29 and 2.88 feet) between 1990 and 2100, the report said, citing figures from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
In New Jersey, the rise is projected at an overall 0.71 meter (2.3 feet) over the period.