Environmental News

Washington, D.C. Is Sinking Into The Sea, Study Claims

Washington, D.C.

The nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., is literally sinking into the sea, according to the findings of a recently published study.

The study, which was published this week in the Geological Society of America’s magazine, GSA Today, revolves around the notion of “forebulge collapse.”

According to the study’s researchers — geologists from the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Vermont and other institutions — a mile-high ice sheet that once stretched as far south as Long Island and caused the land underneath what is now the nation’s capital to bulge up. But that was mile-high ice sheet stretching as far south as New York disappeared about 20,000 years ago and now, according to the researchers, the capital is sinking.

The study’s lead author, Ben DeJong, explained to Science Daily that it’s “like sitting on one side of a water bed filled with very thick honey” and the other side goes up, but when you stand up, the bulge comes back down.

It’s a bit like sitting on one side of a water bed filled with very thick honey (…) then the other side goes up. But when you stand, the bulge comes down again.

DeJong, with the support of the USGS, conducted the research while he was a doctoral student at UVM’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.

According to the research, which was based on extensive drilling along Maryland’s coastal plain, D.C. could drop by six or more inches in the next century. Not only that, Chesapeake Bay is sinking relatively rapidly, as tide gauges have shown that the sea level is rising at a rate nearly twice the global average — faster than anywhere else along the East Coast.

UVM geologist Paul Bierman referred to the capital sinking as “ironic” because it’s the “least responsive” place to the dangers of climate change and it just so happens to be “sitting in one of the worst spots it could be in terms of this land subsidence.”

It’s ironic that the nation’s capital–the place least responsive to the dangers of climate change–is sitting in one of the worst spots it could be in terms of this land subsidence (…) Will the Congress just sit there with their feet getting ever wetter? What’s next, forebulge denial?

In regards to Bierman’s remarks, MSNBC‘s Tony Dokoupil wrote in a report, “Let’s hope not.”

Are you surprised by the study’s findings?

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