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Not About Politics: Washington DC is Literally Sinking

© Flickr / David Jones / Washington DC Skyline
Washington DC Skyline - Sputnik International
It is estimated that the ground under some of the US’ most important buildings and landmarks will drop by more than six inches before the end of this century, but unlike climate change, it’s not our fault, says a team of earth scientists.

The sky reflects on the north-east boundary of the Evergaldes National Park, near Miami, on Monday, July 27, 1998. A $7.5 billion, 20-year project, referred to as the Central and Southern Florida Project Restudy, has been developed by a multi-agency committee of people and organizations interested in restoring the Everglades. - Sputnik International
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Even though geologists say the causes for the sinking District in and of themselves aren't man-made, the coupling of a natural geologic process with rising sea levels, spurred by man-made climate change, presents the US capital with a big problem.

Data from this new study helps to explain long-held theories that sea levels are rising faster around Washington, DC and its suburbs than in any other region along the East Coast.

Scientists, led by a team from the University of Vermont, drilled 70 bores over 100 feet deep in the Chesapeake Bay and determined that the culprit is an ancient ice sheet that once covered most of North America. Since it began retreating, the land has been settling back into place.  Washington, DC is in an area that was just outside the sheet, and it "bulged" up.

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"It's a bit like sitting on one side of a water bed filled with very thick honey," lead study author Ben DeJong said. "Then the other side goes up. But when you stand, the bulge comes down again."

Sounds pretty harmless, right? Not so, warn scientists, when it's coupled with rising sea levels.

"Right now is the time to start making preparations," DeJong said. "Six extra inches of water really matters in this part of the world," he stressed.

"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," said Paul Bierman, the study's senior author. "Will the Congress just sit there with their feet getting ever wetter? What's next, forebulge denial?"

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