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Study: Rising sea levels could cause shift in weather patterns for Arizona

In this July 2, 2014, photo, people swim in the waters of the Caribbean on Batabano beach, where deforestation has been extreme, in Batabano, Cuba. Officials are waging a public awareness campaign educating coastal residents to be caretakers of the tangled, mosquito-infested thickets. The campaign shows them how their own homes and farms are at stake, and urges them to protect freshwater streams vital for maintaining the right saline levels. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)

PHOENIX — Ocean levels are rising and coastal communities could be in for some catastrophic storms, according to a recent study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study found that sea levels rose faster in the 20th Century than at any point in the last 2,800 years. Additionally, oceans could rise another 51 inches by 2100 if nothing is done to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Arizona State University Meteorology Professor Randy Cerveny said coastal communities could see more flooding and more devastating storms as sea levels continue to rise.

“Storms are going to create bigger catastrophes along the coast because they are going to be pushing up more water into those cities,” he said. “If you have higher sea levels, coastal cities are going to have more of their areas flooded when you have a big storm.”

Arizona could also feel the effects of rising sea levels. Cerveny said the higher sea levels could lead to varied ocean temperatures, which could change normal weather patterns for Arizona.

“That kind of change could lead to more droughts or more storms,” Cerveny said. “(It) depends on how the actual upper air winds shift and how the storm pattern actually shifts.”

The report said if efforts are made to curb greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels would still rise, but at a slower pace. But even if change are made, it might be a while before they are noticeable.

“It will be a slow process, it will probably be through the end of the century,” Cerveny said.

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