Image via Shutterstock By 2050, the number of high-tide flood days will rise between 45 to 70 days per year on average, according to a new report.
Image via Shutterstock

As sea levels rise, damaging flooding that decades ago only happened during a storm now happens more regularly.

Every Floridian has seen the headlines: “Residents of the Sunshine State who live along the coast could be impacted due to sea level rise.” Of course, this is not new. In Miami-Dade County alone, tidal flooding compounded by sea rise has led to almost $500 million in lost real estate value from 2005 to 2016, according to the March 2022 United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Now, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report record-breaking high-tide flooding caused by sea-level rise over the past year, which is expected to continue.

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High-tide flooding, or sunny-day flooding, happens when waters are 1.75-2 feet above average daily high tide. According to NOOA, it is happening with more frequency.

This rise is caused by warming of the ocean and increased melting of land-based ice, such as glaciers. The ocean is absorbing more than 90% of the increased atmospheric heat associated with emissions from human activity.

The Rise Is Accelerating

As sea level rises, explained William Sweet, an oceanographer with NOAA’s National Ocean Service, damaging flooding that decades ago only happened during a storm “now happens more regularly, even without stormy weather, such as during a full-moon tide or with a change in winds or currents.”

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“US communities saw four days, on average, of high-tide flooding in 2021, just shy of the record of five days set a few years ago,” he continued, noting that the number of days is accelerating along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

In 2021 the eastern Gulf saw an average of four high-tide flooding days, compared to six for the Southeast Atlantic. Nationally, the expectation is three to seven days this year, which is the same forecast for the Southeast Atlantic and eastern Gulf coasts.

“By 2050, the number of high-tide flood days will rise between 45 to 70 days per year on average, suggesting high-tide flood days will become the new high tide in many locations.”