Sea Level Rise

Accelerated erosion

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There will always be beaches, but sea level rise will ensure that they will not be in the same place in the future. The beaches will still exist throughout this change, but many of the buildings may not. Efforts to save development, however do threaten beaches, such as shoreline armoring structures.

Although relative amounts of rise may seem very small, only a few millimeters per year, the cumulative effect of these small rises each year over a long period of time (100+ years) causes major problems. Accelerated rates of erosion are attributed to sea level rise and erosion causes large economic losses around the world each year due to the close proximity of buildings and critical infrastructure. This includes transportation systems, gas and oil lines as well as electricity lines and power plants.

Most developed coasts and beaches have buildings very close to the ocean leaving little room for the ever-expanding ocean. The future effects of sea level rise on coastal civilization over the entire world are of great concern. Over half of the world’s population lives within 100 km of the coast. Over the next 50 years, damage due to coastal development will be devastating, but if the rate of sea level rise increases, the results could be catastrophic. This issue threatens areas from New York City in the United States to the Pearl River Delta in China to the Maldives.

The world map below allows you to see elevations of coastal areas. Areas in red are the lowest in elevation and are most prone to flooding. Check out Manhattan in New York City. If you think the situation there looks dire, be sure to check out the effects of a 2 m rise in sea level on Pearl River Delta in China, home to more than 40 million people. Map courtesy of

Surfing in / Sea Level Rise

Five Pacific islands vanish from sight as sea levels rise


Five of the Solomon Islands have been swallowed whole by rising sea levels, offering a glimpse into the future of other low-lying nations.

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Atlantic City Gambles on Rising Seas, NJ

This city’s famous casinos are on high ground, while its poor are in the floodwaters’ path. The people still there “haven’t figured out a way to leave yet,” one lifelong resident says.

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How much does groundwater contribute to sea level rise?

Groundwater extraction and other land water contribute about three times less to sea level rise than previous estimates, according to a new study. The study does not change the overall picture of future sea level rise, but provides a much more accurate understanding of the interactions between water on land, in the atmosphere, and the oceans.

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A warning for Miami, Miami Beach

Scientists warn that we live in a “doomed city” in new book on climate change. “Retreat From a Rising Sea: Hard Choices in an Age of Climate Change,” is an effort to explain the science for a lay reader. It is clear and authoritative and for South Florida, it is urgent.

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Facebook, Google campuses at risk of being flooded due to sea level rise

san francisco bay

Technology giants including Facebook and Google face the prospect of their prestigious Silicon Valley headquarters becoming swamped by water as rising sea levels threaten to submerge much of the property development boom gripping San Francisco and the Bay Area.

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Sinking Atlantic Coastline Meets Rapidly Rising Seas

Geological changes along the East Coast are causing land to sink along the seaboard. That’s exacerbating the flood-inducing effects of sea level rise, which has been occurring faster in the western Atlantic Ocean than elsewhere in recent years.

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Website reveals which homes will be swamped by rising sea levels

For the first time, Australians can see on a map how rising sea levels will affect their house just by typing their address into a website.

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Sea level rise threatens U.S. historic sites

Many of the most threatened sites in North America lie along the East Coast between Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and southern Maine, where the rate of sea level rise is among the fastest in the world.

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North Carolina Sea Level: No more head-in-the-sand?

How science works: Research indicating faster rates of sea-level rise along North Carolina coast may influence state actions affecting coastal properties.

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Recent / Sea Level Rise

Increased flooding, accelerated sea-level rise in Miami over last decade, new study shows

April 5th, 2016

Miami Beach flood events have significantly increased over the last decade due to an acceleration of sea-level rise in South Florida, a new report warns. The researchers suggest that regional sea-level projections should be used in place of global projections to better prepare for future flood hazards in the region.

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Is the Ocean Melting the Ice?

April 5th, 2016

Global sea level rise is one of the major environmental challenges of the 21st Century, and Greenland is central to the problem. That massive ice sheet touches the sea along more than 44,000 kilometers of jagged coastline, and the ice sheet is not just melting from warm air temperatures above; it is also likely being melted from water below.

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Sea levels set to ‘rise far more rapidly than expected’

March 30th, 2016

New research factors in collapsing Antarctic ice sheet that could double the sea-level rise to two metres by 2100 if emissions are not cut

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Coastal erosion claiming one metre of land from Geraldton beach each year, study reveals

March 30th, 2016

Coastal erosion is claiming more than a metre of land every year from parts of a seaside city on Western Australia’s Mid West coast, and the rate has increased significantly in recent decades, a new study has revealed.

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As U.S. Coastal Cities Swell, Rising Seas Threaten Millions

March 14th, 2016

That combination of rising populations and rising seas could see millions of Americans living in homes that flood regularly during the decades ahead, according to a nationwide analysis.

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Sea level rise is accelerating; how much it costs is up to us

March 14th, 2016

Important new research shows that sea levels are rising at unprecedented rates, and will have tremendous costs if we don’t slow them.

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This mind-boggling study shows just how massive sea level rise really is

March 12th, 2016

As our planet continues to warm, coastlines worldwide will retreat inland — in the long run, maybe by a lot. It seems doubtful that we can defend all of the many coastal zones that will be at risk. But in a new study just out in the open access journal Earth System Dynamics, scientists have actually published an idea for doing that and provided some calculations regarding the scale of what it would take.

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Nansen Breaking Up with Antarctica

March 9th, 2016

A floating shelf of ice attached to the coast of Antarctica appears ready to shed an iceberg into the Southern Ocean. Over the course of two years, a small crack grew large enough to spread across nearly the entire width of the Nansen Ice Shelf.

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UCSB Researchers Studying El Niño Sea Level Rise, CA

March 7th, 2016

Since the arrival of El Niño in November, sea levels have risen 20 cm to become a surrogate for the next 250 years of climate change, giving scientists the prime opportunity to study future erosion of the Santa Barbara coastline.

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Rethinking Urban Landscapes To Adapt to Rising Sea Levels

March 3rd, 2016

From Shanghai and Mumbai to New York and Buenos Aires, even a few feet of sea level rise threatens to flood homes and highways, inundate sewage treatment plants, and contaminate drinking water. Landscape architect Kristina Hill argues that cities need to start planning now for impacts that will happen 50 or 100 years in the future.

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