The glaciers around our planet are slowly melting, releasing more water into the oceans. We’ve seen plenty of studies discussing what will happen if the ice shelves collapse, and many scientists are even trying to find ways to reverse climate change altogether. A new study claims that the U.S. Atlantic coast is sinking, raising concerns about iconic U.S. cities.
This new research is published in PNAS Nexus, and it looks closely at the subsidence rates of cities like Baltimore, New York, and Norfolk, stating that each of these cities is sinking at a rate of one and two millimeters per year. These rates affect a land area ranging from 2,000 to 74,000 square kilometers and have a population of 1.2 to 14 million people.
If something drastic were to happen, then those subsidence rates could help lead to catastrophic events within those areas, something the study touches on in-depth. Other reports note that some areas are even sinking at rates of up to five millimeters per year.
While that might not seem like much, if the glaciers I mentioned earlier were to melt or collapse, then the sea level would rise exponentially. Some have even claimed the sea level could rise six feet, which would be catastrophic to areas that have been sinking slowly over the years.
Because of these risks, the researchers involved in the study say that we need to look at proper ways to mitigate the sinking to ensure that these cities’ infrastructure isn’t compromised in the future. The researchers say that these findings have “far-reaching implications for community and infrastructure resilience planning.”
Of course, it’s unclear whether city officials will consider these warnings or if the sinking cities will continue to grow worse over time. If these issues are not addressed, though, we could see some massive changes to the population of iconic U.S. coastal cities like New York, Baltimore, and more.