All the political gridlock in Congress and name-calling during election season may not matter as much when Washington, D.C. sinks into the ocean.
According to new research conducted by geologists at the University of Vermont and the U.S. Geological Survey, the land in the Chesapeake Bay region, including the nation’s capital, is sinking rapidly. The sea level in the Chesapeake is rising at twice the global average and faster than anywhere else on the East Coast, the researchers say, which means D.C. will sink 6 or more inches in the next 100 years.
The sinking is caused by melting ice sheets which caused underlying rock to bulge upward. As the ice melts, the rock bulge drops. Scientists say this will cause more flooding in the region, which is already getting worse from global warming.
“Right now is the time to start making preparations,” said Ben DeJong, lead author of the study, in a University of Vermont press release. “Six extra inches of water really matters in this part of the world.”
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Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.Rogers@time.com