Despite the fact that land is rising in Washington due to a shifting in the tectonic plates,1 the sea level off Washington’s coast is up to 4 inches higher than it was in 1950.2 This increase is mostly due to ice melting into the ocean, and it’s causing major issues.3 Higher sea levels can increase coastal flooding, contribute to beach erosion, and allow saltwater to intrude into drinking water supplies.4 Solutions in Washington are urgent because the state’s coast supports a $17 billion annual tourism industry.5 The state is taking action and planning efforts to combat sea level rise and mitigate flooding.
Sea level rise is speeding up
The sea level around Friday Harbor, Washington, has risen by 4 inches since 1950. Its speed of rise has accelerated over the last ten years and it’s now rising by about 1 inch every 5 years.2 Scientists know this because the sea level is measured every 6 minutes using equipment like satellites, floating buoys off the coast, and tidal gauges to accurately measure the local sea level as it accelerates and changes.7
Sea level measurement from Friday Harbor area tide gauge since 1950