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

Reuters’ Water’s Edge Report – Part I


A Reuters analysis finds that flooding is increasing along much of the nation’s coastline, forcing many communities into costly, controversial struggles with a relentless foe.

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“Just Right” Plant Growth May Make River Deltas Resilient


Geologists suggest that an intermediate amount of vegetation is most effective at stabilizing freshwater river deltas. Vegetation on marsh surfaces in river deltas can slow the flow of water and cause more sediment to be deposited, helping prevent sea-level rise from drowning sensitive marshlands.

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A Tale of Two Cities: Miami, New York and Life on the Edge


Walking along the waterfront in Fort Lauderdale and admiring the 60-foot yachts docked alongside impressive homes, it’s hard to imagine that this city could suffer the same financial fate as Detroit.

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Cause Of Global Warming Hiatus Found Deep In the Atlantic Ocean


Observations show that the heat absent from the Earth’s surface for more than a decade is plunging deep in the north and south Atlantic Ocean, and is part of a naturally occurring cycle.

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Greenland Ice Melting At Record Speed


Satellite data shows ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are declining at record speed. The annual loss of ice has doubled in the case of Greenland and tripled in the West Antarctic compared to figures from 2009.

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Swamped by Rising Seas, Small Islands Seek a Lifeline


The world’s 52 small island developing states (SIDS), some in danger of being wiped off the face of the earth because of sea-level rise triggered by climate change, will be the focus of an international conference in the South Pacific island nation of Samoa next month.

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Atlantic Warming Turbocharges Pacific Trade Winds


Rapid warming of the Atlantic Ocean, likely caused by global warming, has turbocharged Pacific Equatorial trade winds. This has caused eastern tropical Pacific cooling, amplified the Californian drought, accelerated sea level rise three times faster than the global average in the Western Pacific…

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Arctic Melt Pond


From above, Arctic ice looks quite different in summer than it does in winter. As temperatures rise in the summer, turquoise splotches of color begin to speckle the ice surfaces. The splashes of blue are melt ponds, areas where snow has melted and pooled in low spots on glaciers and sea ice.

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Science Panel Works To Update Sea-Level Rise Report, NC


A NC state-appointed science panel began work last week on an update to a controversial sea-level rise report, members of the panel said Thursday at a meeting of the Coastal Resources Commission.

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Recent / Sea Level Rise

Exclusive: Coastal Flooding Has Surged in U.S.


July 10th, 2014

Coastal flooding along the densely populated Eastern Seaboard of the United States has surged in recent years, a Reuters analysis has found.

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Sea Erosion Poses Threat To Coastal Villages


July 9th, 2014

Ever since the December 2004 tsunami, the entire coastline in Cuddalore district, in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, had undergone a vast change. The tsunami washed away a large volume of sand that had earlier served as a protective wall. “With every storm or cyclone, and even during high tides, seawater surges into the land”…

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Sea-Level Rise in Small Island Nations to Cost US Trillions: Shift to Green Policies and Investment Critical


July 8th, 2014

Climate change-induced sea-level rise in the world’s 52 small island nations – estimated to be up to four times the global average – continues to be the most pressing threat to their environment and socio-economic development with annual losses at the trillions of dollars due to increased vulnerability.

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Changing Antarctic Winds Create New Sea Level Threat


July 7th, 2014

New research shows projected changes in the winds circling the Antarctic may accelerate global sea level rise significantly more than previously estimated. It appears they may also have a profound impact on warming ocean temperatures under the ice shelves along the coastline of West and East Antarctic.

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Tiny Barbuda Grapples with Rising Seas


June 30th, 2014

The 1,800 residents of the tiny Caribbean island of Barbuda are learning to adapt as climate change proves to be a force to reckon with, disrupting not just the lives of the living but also the resting places of those who died centuries ago.

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Study Links Greenland Ice Sheet Collapse, Sea Level Rise 400,000 Years Ago


June 25th, 2014

A new study suggests that a warming period more than 400,000 years ago pushed the Greenland ice sheet past its stability threshold, resulting in a nearly complete deglaciation of southern Greenland and raising global sea levels some 4-6 meters.

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San Franciscans in the Dark About Flood Hazards?


June 20th, 2014

Ocean Beach, on the western edge of the city, has been offering San Franciscans a place to enjoy nature and water activities, but the shoreline is facing greater erosion due to sea level rise that threatens public safety and vital infrastructure.

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Disaster-Prone Caribbean Looks to Better Financing


June 18th, 2014

Flooding is commonplace in the Caribbean, with Guyana for instance, one of the most flood-prone countries in the region, where nearly 90 percent of the population lives in this narrow coastal plain largely below sea level.

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Erosion Nibbles Away at Cape Cod’s Coast


June 11th, 2014

“At the same time the population is moving towards the coast the coast is also moving to that population,” explained Rob Thieler of the U.S. Geological Survey Science Center in Woods Hole.

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Kiribati President Purchases Resettlement Land as Precaution Against Rising Sea


June 9th, 2014

Kiribati’s president, Anote Tong, said he bought land in Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second-largest island, so that his 103,000 people will have some high ground to go to when a rising sea makes his nation of 33 low-lying coral atolls unliveable.

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