Mid-Atlantic
A “ghost forest” in eastern North Carolina bears the signs of saltwater intrusion associated with rising sea levels. Photo: Mark Hibbs

NC’s Next Sea Level Rise Study to Eye 2100

The next five-year update to the state’s 2010 sea level rise assessment report will look all the way out to 2100, the science advisory panel to the state Coastal Resources Commission decided during its Oct. 18 meeting.

The CRC Science Panel’s  2010 North Carolina Sea Level Rise Assessment Report, which included sea level rise projections to 2100, was updated in 2015 but commission members in place at the time limited the panel’s scope to a 30-year rolling time table.

The 2010 report was a synthesis of then available data on sea level rise on the state’s coast. It also provided recommendations, at the request of the CRC, regarding how much sea level rise to plan for by 2100. The conclusion for that report was “that a rise of 1 meter (39 inches) be adopted as the amount of anticipated rise by 2100, for policy development and planning purposes.” The panel also recommended that the report be updated every five years to stay current with the latest science.

The report was met with scorn by a North Carolina economic group, ultimately leading to Session Law 2012-202, House Bill 819, which gave guidelines to the sea level rise report’s 2015 update and also included that the CRC and DCM “shall not define rates of sea-level change for regulatory purposes prior to July 1, 2016.” North Carolina faced national criticism as a result, with many news sources saying that the state had outlawed science.

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