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 globalwarmingart.com


Surfing in / Sea Level Rise

Rising seas could result in 2 billion refugees by 2100

In the year 2100, 2 billion people — about one-fifth of the world’s population — could become climate change refugees due to rising ocean levels. Those who once lived on coastlines will face displacement and resettlement bottlenecks as they seek habitable places inland, according to new research.

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The fight against climate change: four cities leading the way in the Trump era

New York City, Houston, Miami and San Francisco have all taken steps to mitigate the risks associated with rising sea levels and global temperatures. Are their successes a blueprint for action at the state and local level?

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Marine reserves help mitigate against climate change, say scientists

Highly protected marine reserves can help mitigate against the impacts of climate change, a study by a team of international scientists has concluded.

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In Next Decades, Frequency of Coastal Flooding Will Double Globally

The frequency and severity of coastal flooding throughout the world will increase rapidly and eventually double in frequency over the coming decades even with only moderate amounts of sea level rise, according to a new study released in “Scientific Reports.”

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How rising seas and coastal storms drowned the U.S. flood insurance program

Sea level rise and more severe storms are overwhelming U.S. coastal communities, causing billions of dollars in damage and essentially bankrupting the federal flood insurance program. Yet rebuilding continues, despite warnings that far more properties will soon be underwater.

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Sea level rise poses serious threat to Charleston; By Orrin H. Pilkey

Rising seas are the first truly global environmental disaster related to climate change. Millions of people will be forced from their homes as the seas drown the atoll nations, devastate much of barrier-island and river-delta civilizations and, of course, invade the world’s coastal cities including Charleston.

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In rare move, one South Florida city sues another in battle over beach erosion

A spat over sand in adjacent cities finally landed in court this week, and it already has cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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Climate change could spell ‘extreme poverty’ in coastal NZ towns

Along New Zealand’s West Coast, the shoreline has been eroding for many years, the relentless sea moves closer by the day. Now the Tasman sea has snuck into some of the beach-front properties. With rising sea levels and more intense storms likely because of a warming climate, parts of Granity will become uninhabitable.

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Sea Level Rise Will Reshape U.S. Population In All 50 States

Sea level rise could cause mass migrations that will affect not just the United States’ East Coast, but reshape communities deep in the heart of the country, according to new research published in the journal Nature Climate Change this week.

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Recent / Sea Level Rise

Surfers will be the canaries in the coal mine on climate change

March 25th, 2017

If the sea level continues to rise, as scientists warn, there will be a serious consequence for the sport: smaller and fewer waves. Consistently higher tides will change the way waves break on reefs and beaches. Without climate change intervention, those effects could become apparent in as a little as 50 years.

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Record-Low Ice Confirmed at North and South Poles

March 23rd, 2017

Sea ice at Earth’s poles is dwindling, and it reached record lows this month, scientists report.

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Atlantic City and Miami Beach: two takes on tackling the rising waters

March 20th, 2017

Sea level rise is making floods more common and as the New Jersey resort braces for the next Sandy, the well-heeled Florida city is throwing money at the problem

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Calif. City Tries Shifting Sands Amid Disappearing Beaches

March 17th, 2017

Today, with sea level rise and erosion threatening to eat away at the sandy expanses and damage city infrastructure, Santa Monica is testing a softer intervention. In a partnership with the nonprofit Bay Foundation, 3 acres of the beach’s north end have been seeded with native California dune plants.

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Increase in extreme sea levels could endanger European coastal communities

March 17th, 2017

Massive coastal flooding in northern Europe that now occurs once every century could happen every year if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, according to a new study.

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Study finds knowledge gaps on protecting cultural sites from climate change

March 7th, 2017

Many cultural sites vulnerable to climate-related changes such as rising sea levels, coastal erosion and flooding from stronger storms, warn researchers.

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Some Virginia barrier islands are shrinking by the day: “You can just feel it”

March 3rd, 2017

Dozen islands are shrinking in Virginia’s barrier chain, which stretches for about 75 miles along the Eastern Shore.

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Coastal policy needs dose of reality; Op Ed by Orrin Pilkey

February 11th, 2017

Governor-elect Roy Cooper, with whatever powers he has left, has two particularly important tasks facing him on the environmental front. One is to reinvigorate and restore the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and to bring robust science to the fore. The second task is to bring our coastal management program into the 21st Century.

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Orrin H. Pilkey: Heading over the coastal cliff in North Carolina; Op Ed

February 6th, 2017

In the December 16 issue of Science, an insightful article about sea-level rise argues that there is a good possibility that the increase will exceed six feet by 2100.

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As Climate Change Accelerates, Floating Cities Look Like Less of a Pipe Dream

January 29th, 2017

A plan to respond to climate change by building a city of floating islands in the South Pacific is moving forward, with the government of French Polynesia agreeing to consider hosting the islands in a tropical lagoon. But the project has critics in French Polynesia and beyond.

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