An extreme event of sea-level rise along the Northeast coast of North America in 2009-2010

Paul B. Goddard, Jianjun Yin, Stephen M. Griffies, Shaoqing Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


The coastal sea levels along the Northeast Coast of North America show significant year-to-year fluctuations in a general upward trend. The analysis of long-term tide gauge records identified an extreme sea-level rise (SLR) event during 2009-10. Within this 2-year period, the coastal sea level north of New York City jumped by 128mm. This magnitude of interannual SLR is unprecedented (a 1-in-850 year event) during the entire history of the tide gauge records. Here we show that this extreme SLR event is a combined effect of two factors: an observed 30% downturn of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation during 2009-10, and a significant negative North Atlantic Oscillation index. The extreme nature of the 2009-10 SLR event suggests that such a significant downturn of the Atlantic overturning circulation is very unusual. During the twenty-first century, climate models project an increase in magnitude and frequency of extreme interannual SLR events along this densely populated coast.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6346
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Mar 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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