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The report outlines how sea-level rise can affect coastal communities and habitats by submerging low-lying lands, eroding beaches, converting wetlands to open water, intensifying coastal flooding, and increasing the salinity of estuaries and freshwater aquifers.
The EPA noted it its release that the rising sea levels are "caused by a number of natural and human-induced factors and can vary by region." The agency said that some impacts of sea-level rise can already be observed along the U.S. coast.
The primary causes of global sea-level rise are the expansion of ocean water due to warming and the melting of glaciers and ice sheets, the EPA said. Locally, sea-level rise is also influenced by changes to the geology of coastal land, making coastal elevation mapping an important area of future study. The Mid-Atlantic region, the focus of this report, is one of the areas in the U.S. that will likely see the greatest impacts due to rising waters, coastal storms, and a high concentration of population along the coastline.
The EPA led the development of the report with significant contributions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey.