January 22, 2009

Outer Banks face risk from sea-level rise

A U.S. study suggests North Carolina is one of the states that will be hurt the most by a substantial rise in sea-level.

Lead author Jim Titus of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the sandy shore of the mid-Atlantic will erode faster than other coastal areas. The Outer Banks is at particular risk, The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer reported Wednesday.

The report suggests the sea-level could rise anywhere from 16 inches to about 3 feet by 2100. Earlier estimates, which suggested a 7-inch to 2-foot rise, did not include the impact of rapid ice melt in Antarctica or Greenland, the newspaper said.

Sea-level rise can affect coastal communities and habitats in a variety of different ways, including submerging low-lying lands, eroding beaches, converting wetlands to open water, intensifying coastal flooding, and increasing the salinity of estuaries and freshwater aquifers, the EPA said in a statement.