Current Land Subsidence and Sea Level Rise along the North American Coastal Region: Observations from 10-Year (2005-2014) Closely-Spaced GPS and Tide Gauge Stations

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Linqiang Yang, Jiangbo Yu, Timothy Kearns and Guoquan Wang, University of Houston, Houston, TX, United States
Strong evidence has proved that the global sea-level is now rising at an increased rate and it is projected to continue to rise. However the rise of the sea-level is not uniform around the world. The local or relative sea-level rise will be of great concern to the coastal regions. The combination of the land subsidence and global sea-level rise causes the relative sea-level to rise. Relative sea-level rise increases the risk of flooding and wetland loss problems in near coastal areas, which in turn have important economic, environmental, and human health consequences for the heavily populated and ecologically important coastal region. However the role played by the coastal land subsidence is commonly absent during the discussion of sea-level rise problems. The sea-level can be measured in two ways: satellite altimetry and tide gauges. The sea-level measured by satellite is called the geocentric sea-level that is relative to earth center and the one measured by tide gauges is called local sea-level that is relative to the land. The tide gauge measurements of the local sea-level do not distinguish between whether the water is rising or the land is subsiding. In some coastal areas, land subsidence is occurring at a higher rate than the geocentric sea-level is rising. This can have a great local effect. GPS technology has proven to be efficient and accurate for measuring and tracking absolute land elevation change. There are about 300 publically available Continuously Operating Reference GPS Stations (CORS) within 15 km from the coastal line along North America. In this study, we use publicly available long-history (> 5 years) CORS data to derive current (2005-2014) coastal subsidence in North America. Absolute coastal sea-level rise will be determined by combing the land subsidence and relative sea-level measurements. This study shows that the relative sea-level of the Alaska area appears to be falling because the land is uplifting; this study also shows that the relative sea-level of the Gulf of Mexico appears to be increasing because the land is subsiding.