TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As the climate continues to warm, sea level rise is accelerating. Florida’s low-lying, yet heavily populated shorelines, are especially vulnerable.

In recent days, multiple new studies have come to light with the same finding: sea level is rising much faster here in the Southeast and Gulf Coast than in other parts of the world.

Experts attribute the extra rise to a variety of different mechanisms, from a warming water column and slowing ocean currents, to increasing ice sheet melt and some degree of natural ocean basin oscillation.

WFLA’s Chief Meteorologist and Climate Specialist Jeff Berardelli spoke to Oceanographer and President of the Rising Seas Institute in Boca Raton, John Englander about the significance of the findings, “We are now seeing in real time that the rate of sea level has doubled in a decade”.

The new papers findings show that starting around 2010 water levels in our region have been rising at twice the global rate. That amounts to 5 inches in the past decade – a rate unprecedented in 1000s of years.

As a result, NOAA says days with high tide flooding in the Southeast have increased 500 to 1000% since 2000.

“The concern is of course how bad could it get? Partly it depends on how warm we let the planet get,” explained Englander.

That’s because sea level rise is caused by global heating in three ways. Warming ocean water expands pushing levels up, warming also accelerates melting from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and warming throws ocean currents off-kilter.

“The simple example that most Floridians would relate to is the Gulf Stream,” Englander said. “It is measurably changing now and we now attribute it to the warming ocean and the melting ice in Greenland. As it melts and enters the North Atlantic it is has an effect to slow down the conveyor belt of the ocean and the Loop Current and the Gulf Stream.

These ocean circulations originate in the Gulf of Mexico. Warmer and slower currents pile water up against our shores. Englander says that comes with consequences, “Low-lying properties that are seeing increased flooding are a problem, insurance rates are going up and there’s a fear that there won’t be available flood insurance at an affordable rate in the coming years. So it is going to hit us in the pocket book.”

In fact, a study published in February found, due to flood risk, Florida properties are overvalued by $50 billion dollars.

Only time will tell if our regional short-term spike in sea level rise will continue or if it’s just a natural fluctuation. But in the coming decades, as the ice sheets melt faster, sea level rise will accelerate. Another foot is likely by 2050 here in the Tampa Bay area.