"The important point here is that smooth projections of sea-level rise do not capture this variability, so adverse effects of sea-level rise may occur before they are predicted to happen," said Andrea Dutton of the University of Florida. "The entire US Atlantic coastline is vulnerable to these hot spots that may amplify the severity of coastal flooding."

Sea level is rising around the globe as climate change warms the waters and adds melted ice. Other hot spots in sea-level rise on the US eastern seaboard over the last century may also be explained by El Niño and the NAO, the team found. Previously studies had implicated a slowdown of circulation in the North Atlantic for a hot spot north of Cape Hatteras in the past few decades.

Dutton and colleagues reported their findings in Geophysical Research Letters.

Related links