The sea level off South Carolina’s coast is over 10 inches higher than it was in 1950.1 This increase is mostly due to ice melt, and it’s causing major issues. In the 1970s the city of Charleston experienced an average of 2 days of flooding per year.2 Today, flooding has increased by 350% and the city is now frequently inundated.3 Because of its low elevation, Charleston’s medical district is exceptionally vulnerable to flooding. During flood events, areas of MUSC become inaccessible, making it impossible to evacuate or move patients.4
There are already over 90,000 properties at risk from frequent tidal flooding in South Carolina.5 The state is planning over $2 billion in sea level rise solutions, which include beach renourishment, seawalls, drainage improvements, and raising roads.
Sea level rise is speeding up
Although the sea has only risen by 10 inches since 1950, its speed of rise has accelerated over the last ten years and it’s now rising by about 1 inch every 2 years.1 We know this because the sea level is measured every 6 minutes.6 Scientists use different equipment like satellites, floating buoys off the coast, and tidal gauges to accurately measure the local sea level as it accelerates and changes.
SEA LEVEL MEASUREMENT FROM CHARLESTON AREA TIDE GAUGE SINCE 1950