Opinion

Report forecasts rising N.C. sea levels

From an editorial in the (Greensboro) News & Record Wednesday:

Politicians imposed a 30-year time limit on sea-level forecasts for North Carolina’s coast, but the scientists made their point anyway.

Sea level is rising, it will cause more flooding of low-lying areas, and the process is accelerating, according to a draft report released Dec. 31 by the Science Panel of the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission.

This may not be what the legislature wants to hear. The 30-year window was supposed to produce small numbers for projected sea-level rise.

The panel predicts just 4 to 5 inches at Wilmington and 11 to 12 inches at Duck on the northern Outer Banks.

The difference has to do with the vertical movement of the ground and the effects of ocean dynamics, which are both more pronounced the farther north you go along North Carolina’s coast.

Also at play is climate change, which the panel readily accepts as having an impact on sea level.

For that, it relies on the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“Because the IPCC report is based on peer-reviewed research and is itself peer-reviewed science, it is the most widely used and vetted climate document,” the Science Panel notes.

The IPCC, established by the United Nations Environment Programme, is regarded by climate-change skeptics as dishonest, inept or both. North Carolina’s Republican legislature must overcome such suspicions.

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