Sea-level predictions raise concerns

Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 9:03 PM EST
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CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts the sea level will increase by a foot by 2050.

Marine science experts say this increase will likely cause more erosion on the shoreline of coastal communities.

“That’s the equivalent of what we’ve seen over the last century,” Dr. Rick Luettich, UNC Institute of Marine Sciences director said.

Many waterfront homeowners in Carteret County say the marshes behind their homes have already experienced significant erosion.

Tom Steepy, the owner of a waterfront home in Beaufort, said severe storms have caused erosion on his property. Steepy and his neighbors created living shorelines of shells to prevent further erosion of the marsh.

“Stone or shell wall takes all the energy out of the water so when the water comes in hits the wall after it hits the wall it just kind of dissipates,” said Steepy.

Luettich says the sea level rise is closely related to the increase in the heat of the global climate. He says it is important to focus on renewable energy sources to prevent greenhouse gas emissions, though this won’t change predictions for the next 30 years.

“We’re not going to turn sea level around. We’re not going to have it start falling any time in the immediate future. It will happen. What we can control is how fast it happens, and so if we can get a better handle on greenhouse gas emissions, then we have the opportunity to lengthen that timeline.”

Dr. Rick Luettich, UNC Institute of Marine Sciences director

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