Some scientists believe that global warming and rising sea levels could be exacerbating the effects of Hurricane Hermine this week. The hurricane hit Florida causing widespread flooding along the east coast of the US and then moved in a north easterly direction hitting the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina
With wind speeds of 120 kilometres per hour Hermine caused significant property damage and flooding. Two people died and 400,000 properties lost power.
Impact and Likelihood are increasing
The extent of flooding may be related to higher sea levels stemming from global warming and natural geological processes that are making the US east coast gradually sink, says Kevin Walsh at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Along parts of the coastline sea levels have risen by 30 centimetres over the last 50 years.
Sean Sublette at Climate Central in the US agrees. “The fact that sea level has continued to rise, as a lot of the polar regions have seen the glacial ice melt, will compound any kind of storm surge flooding that comes from hurricanes,” he told US broadcaster PBS.
This theory is consistent with a 2012 modelling study which indicated that if sea levels rise by 1 metre by 2100 as predicted, major hurricane-related flooding that typically affects the US east coast once per century will happen every three to 20 years