LifestyleMajor US East Coast cities sinking: Threat to infrastructure escalates with rising sea levels

Major US East Coast cities sinking: Threat to infrastructure escalates with rising sea levels

Cities on the East Coast of North America are slowly declining.
Cities on the East Coast of North America are slowly declining.
Images source: © Adobe Stock

5:54 AM EST, January 4, 2024

Scientists from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University are raising the alarm bell. The discernible sinking of areas along the eastern coastline is most noticeable in densely populated urban centers such as New York, Long Island, Baltimore, Virginia Beach, and Norfolk.

Cities are sinking by 0.08 inches each year

This phenomenon substantially threatens infrastructure, including roads, railway lines, airports, buildings, gas pipelines, and water pipelines. The ongoing lowering of the land elevates the risks posed by the rising sea level.

"The ongoing sinking of the US east coast should elicit concern, especially in areas with a high population density and a historical neglect in maintenance and repair work," reports Leonard Ohenhen, the lead author of the study published in the PNAS Nexus journal.

Using satellite radar data and space images, scientists have created a precise map of land elevation and its historical changes. A substantial area on the US East Coast is sinking by at least 0.08 inches every year. An area covering almost 1,544 square miles even lowers by 0.2 inches annually.

This poses a tangible threat to residents of America's east coast

"We've measured a sinking rate of 0.08 inches per year, impacting over 2 million people and 800,000 properties along the East Coast," says the lead researcher, Professor Manoochehr Shirzaei. "We're aware that the land is sinking. This is not some far-off threat. It concerns you, me, and everyone. The process may be slow, but the impacts are tangible," he explains.

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