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New Orleans will see one of highest levels of sea level rise in the world, study says

In this Aug. 31, 2012 file photo, the town of Braithwaite, La., is inundated with floodwaters from Isaac as downtown New Orleans is visible in the distance. Isaac barely had hurricane-strength winds when it blew ashore southwest of New Orleans a year ago, but its effects are still apparent in coastal areas where it flooded thousands of homes. After landfall on Aug 28, 2012, Isaac stalled, dumping more than a foot of rain and churning a monstrous storm surge. Water flowed over levees and destroyed homes and businesses in coastal Louisiana and Mississippi.
In this Aug. 31, 2012 file photo, the town of Braithwaite, La., is inundated with floodwaters from Isaac as downtown New Orleans is visible in the distance. Isaac barely had hurricane-strength winds when it blew ashore southwest of New Orleans a year ago, but its effects are still apparent in coastal areas where it flooded thousands of homes. After landfall on Aug 28, 2012, Isaac stalled, dumping more than a foot of rain and churning a monstrous storm surge. Water flowed over levees and destroyed homes and businesses in coastal Louisiana and Mississippi. AP File

Just when you think the news about sea level rise couldn’t get much worse for New Orleans, it has.

According to a study released this month, the city will experience one of the highest increases in sea level among 138 coastal cities around the planet because of its location on the northern Gulf of Mexico.

New Orleans could see as much as 14.5 inches of sea level rise by 2040, and 6.5 feet by 2100 if the world doesn’t act quickly to lower greenhouse gas emissions, the main driver of global warming.

The populated parts of the city, of course, are protected by levees rising to about 22 feet. The increase would be most evident outside the levees, such as the land bridge between New Orleans and St. Tammany Parish, and in coastal communities to the south and west.

Those projections do not include subsidence, which is a serious problem for New Orleans. Coastal Louisiana, built on sediment-starved deltas of the Mississippi River, is sinking at one of the fastest rates of any coastal landscape in the world.

The paper, “Coastal sea level rise with warming above 2° C,” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It’s aimed at giving policymakers a more accurate assessment of local risks posed by rising sea levels.

Read the full story at The New Orleans Advocate.

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