NOAA: Charleston's Coastal Flooding Has Increased Fourfold since 1960

Jul 28, 2014 04:46 PM EDT | Jordan Ecarma

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Coastal flooding is increasing along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coastlines, with "nuisance flooding" said to have increased more than 400 percent in Charleston since 1960.

A study released Monday by federal government scientists indicates that flooding has expanded at 41 of 45 locations as measured by National Weather Service thresholds in the last several decades, Reuters reported.

"Flooding now occurs with high tides in many locations due to climate-related sea level rise, land subsidence and the loss of natural barriers," said William Sweet, oceanographer at NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, as quoted by The Post and Courier.

"The effects of rising sea levels along most of the continental U.S. coastline are only going to become more noticeable and much more severe in the coming decades, probably more so than any other climate-change related factor," Sweet said.

The study placed Charleston at No. 7 on the top 10 list of U.S. spots with increased nuisance flooding. The city saw fewer than five flooding days on average from 1957 through 1963, but more than 23 flooding days were documented yearly from 2007 through 2013.

According to the list, the top five places are all in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

"We stress that in many areas, the frequency of nuisance flooding is already on an accelerating trajectory, and many other locations will soon follow" if the trends spotlighted in the study continue, the scientists warned in the report.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found in the study that a combination of rising sea levels and sinking land contributed to nuisance flooding along the northeast Atlantic coast.

Floods will only become more noticeable and severe in the next few decades, the scientists wrote in the study.

Charleston has been constructing deep tunnels and huge pumping stations to mitigate flooding in vulnerable areas, while some suburban areas have invested millions into flood-control projects, The Post and Courier reported.

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