Published November 17, 2005
PRINCETON, N.J. – Rising seas caused by global warming and other factors will have dire consequences for New Jersey, submerging sections of the state's highly developed coastline by the end of the century, according to a report released Wednesday by Princeton University.
The Atlantic Ocean, swollen by melting ice caps, could rise by up to 4 feet by the year 2100, moving the coastline 480 feet inland in a worst-case scenario, according to the study co-authored by Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at the university's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
That, in turn, would open the door for so-called 100-year floods occurring every five years, according to "Future Sea Level Rise and the New Jersey Coast," an 81-page report that forecasts an ominous future for the shore.
"We see very high vulnerability on the Jersey coast," Oppenheimer said Wednesday. "These things are not going to happen tomorrow. It gradually unfolds over the course of the 21st century. But we will be spending ever-increasing amounts defending the coast."
Using data from previous studies, the Princeton researchers said climate change associated with global warming from trapped greenhouse gases, combined with the natural gradual sinking of coastal land, would lead to the sea change. They recommended a gradual withdrawal from parts of the densely occupied Jersey shore and a reduction in motor vehicle emissions and industrial air pollution.
While it doesn't list shore towns by name or predict the damage they would suffer, the report says some beachfront property owners would be forced to abandon their homes.
In the most likely scenario, sea levels would rise 2 feet, causing the New Jersey shoreline to creep 240 feet west of where it is now, the report said.
Will gamblers be someday pulling up to Atlantic City's casinos in gondolas instead of tour buses?
"They'll either have to provide a heck of a lot of beach replenishment or build something harder, like a sea wall," Oppenheimer said. "They will be defended because it costs too much economically to let them go down the drain," he said, referring to the beachfront casinos.