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

NASA’s Front Porch View of Rising Seas

For the past two centuries, two trends have been steady and clear around the United States. Sea level has been rising, and more people have been moving closer to the coast.

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Unrestrained Fossil Fuel Burning Could Drown World’s Major Cities

Burning all of Earth’s fossil fuels would trigger enough global warming to completely melt the Antarctic ice sheet. It would cause sea levels to rise by 200 feet (60 meters), drowning land around the world that is currently home to more than a billion people, the researchers said in the study.

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NOAA: El Niño May Accelerate Nuisance Flooding

According to a new NOAA report, many mid-Atlantic and West Coast communities could see the highest number of nuisance flooding days on record through April due to higher sea levels and more frequent storm surge, compounded by the strengthening El Niño, which is likely to continue into the spring.

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Summer Sea Ice Likely to Drop to 4th Lowest on Record

The shell of ice that covers the Arctic Ocean is nearing its yearly low point and projections suggest that it will be among the four lowest summer minimums on record.

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Watching the Rivers Flow on Greenland

Besides contributing to sea level rise, melt water runoff also accelerates ice loss: when the water percolates through the ice sheet and reaches the rock below, it slightly lifts the ice, helping it flow faster toward the ocean.

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New Sea-Level Rise Handbook Highlights Science and Models for Non-Scientists

Coastal managers and planners now have access to a new U.S.G.S.handbook that, for the first time, comprehensively describes the various models used to study and predict sea-level rise and its potential impacts on coasts.

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The Fingerprints of Sea Level Rise

When you fill a sink, the water rises at the same rate to the same height in every corner. That’s not the way it works with our rising seas.

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NASA: Rising Sea Levels More Dangerous Than Thought

The consequences of global sea level rise could be even scarier than the worst-case scenarios predicted by the dominant climate models, which don’t fully account for the fast breakup of ice sheets and glaciers, NASA scientists said today (Aug. 26) at a press briefing.

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10 Years Since Katrina: The Climate Connection is Clear (Op-Ed)

Rising sea levels increase the probability of storm-induced surges. As with Katrina and Sandy, they are often the most destructive aspects of hurricanes…

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Recent / Sea Level Rise

Disastrous Sea Level Rise Is an Issue for Today’s Public – Not Next Millennium’s

July 28th, 2015

The bottom line message scientists should deliver to policymakers is that we have a global crisis, an emergency that calls for global cooperation to reduce emissions as rapidly as practical.

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Climate Change Threatens China’s Booming Coastal Cities, Says Expert

July 27th, 2015

A recent study led by Georgina Mace, ecosystem professor at University College London, indicated that governments across the world have failed to grasp the risk that population booms in coastal cities pose as climate change continues to cause rises in sea levels and extreme weather events.

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Detailed Flood Information Key to More Reliable Coastal Storm Impact Estimates


July 24th, 2015

A new study that looked in part at how damage estimates evolve following a storm puts the total amount of building damage caused by Hurricane Sandy for all evaluated counties in New York at $23 billion. Estimates of damage by county ranged from $380 million to $5.9 billion.

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Here Are 10 Striking Images of Future Sea Levels

July 11th, 2015

To really understand what climate change could mean for coastal areas, photos really do the trick.

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Coastal Nations, Megacities Face 20 Feet of Sea Rise

July 11th, 2015

If, as suggested by a comprehensive new review in the journal Science, 2°C of global warming will lock in at least 20 feet (6 meters) of eventual sea level rise, what would 2°C of warming (3.6°F) mean for the future and heritage of global nations and cities?

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Coastal Erosion Eats Away at Mokau, New Zealand

July 10th, 2015

At one pristine coastal spot in the Waikato, less than $100,000 can buy you a tidy, three-bedroom bach. The catch is, the sea may steal the land underneath it at some point in the future.

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Erosion and the Disappearance of Senegal’s coast

June 15th, 2015

At their recent summit in Germany, G7 leaders agreed to limit global warming to 2°C, but along Senegal’s coast, the consequences of climate change are already tangible. The coastline is suffering severe land loss due to erosion.

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Accelerated Warming of the Continental Shelf Off Northeast Coast

June 15th, 2015

A couple of unexplained large scale changes in the waters off the northeast coast of the U.S. have oceanographers perplexed: an accelerated rate of sea level rise compared to most other parts of the world; and the disturbing signs of collapsing fisheries in the region.

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Growing Climate Change Threat to Britain’s Historic Coastline

June 12th, 2015

Hundreds of miles of British coastline – so long the symbol of this nation’s island story – are collapsing through worsening erosion. A report by the National Trust (NT) later this year is expected to warn that more action will be needed to protect threatened sites.

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15 Facts About Sea Level Rise; A CNN Report

June 12th, 2015

We’re talking about the future here, so estimates vary by source, but the bottom line is this: Our actions today will create the world future generations will have to inhabit. Here’s a look at some of the scariest data about how much ocean levels could rise, and when.

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