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New Jersey Shore Likely Faces Unprecedented Flooding by Mid-Century

By Allie Goolrick
Published: December 9, 2013

Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen/U.S. Air Force/New Jersey National Guard

When Superstorm Sandy pummeled the Jersey shore in 2012, the storm surge and subsequent flooding was enough to decimate parts of the iconic Atlantic City Boardwalk and flood coastal city streets with up to 5 feet of water.

Now, researchers at Rutgers and Tufts Universities say that by 2050, dramatic sea level rise could cause unprecedented flooding on the New Jersey shore, surpassing that of Superstorm Sandy or any flooding event on record.

In the alarming new study, which appears in new journal Earth’s Future, geoscientists estimate that sea levels along the New Jersey shore could rise about 1.5 feet by 2050 and 3.5 feet by 2100, up to 15 inches higher than the national average.

(MORE: What Sea Level Rise Could Look Like)

That means that a nor’easter of the future could potentially be more damaging than Sandy, one of the most devastating storms on record in the Northeast.

That’s a scary prospect for people along the Jersey coast, and one that has researchers concerned.

"Though it may be years before the effects become apparent, sea level rise “must be planned for,” Kenneth G. Miller, a Rutgers University professor and lead author of the study, told Asbury Park Press. “To a certain extent, it doesn’t matter if you believe in global warming or not. We know that sea level is rising globally and we know that New Jersey is sinking.”

To make their projections, Miller, Robert Kopp, Benjamin Horton and James Browning of Rutgers and Andrew Kemp of Tufts did an analysis of historic and modern-day records in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region.

Not only were they able to suggest the extent to which sea levels will rise, they also discovered a remarkable indication that sea level rise in New Jersey occurred faster in the 20th century than it did any other century in the last 4,300 years.

To read the full study, click here.

MORE: A Look Back at Superstorm Sandy

Long Beach Island, N.J.

Long Beach Island, N.J.

Associated Press

In this aerial photograph, heavy equipment pushes sand to restore a barrier dune along the Atlantic Ocean on Long Beach Island, N.J., Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, after the region was pounded by Superstorm Sandy the previous week.

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