Computer models long have projected higher levels along parts of the East Coast because of changes in ocean currents from global warming, but this is the first study to show that's already happened.
By 2100, scientists and computer models estimate that sea levels globally could rise as much as 3.3 feet (1.01 meters). The accelerated rate along the East Coast could add about 8 inches (20 centimeters) to 11 inches (28 centimeters) more, Sallenger said.
"Where that kind of thing becomes important is during a storm," Sallenger said. That's when it can damage buildings and erode coastlines.
On the West Coast, a National Research Council report released Friday projects an average 3-foot (nearly 1-meter) rise in sea level in California by the year 2100, and 2 feet (0.61 meters) in Oregon and Washington. The land mass north of the San Andreas Fault is expected to rise, offsetting the rising sea level in those two states.