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

Island Nation Takes On The World’s Polluters


What are the obligations under international law of a State for ensuring that activities under its jurisdiction or control that emit greenhouse gases do not cause, or substantially contribute to, serious damage to another State or States? Vulnerable countries, like Palau, that have not contributed to global warming, pressed this question in front of the ICJ.

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Greenland’s Fastest Glacier Reaches Record Speeds


Jakobshavn Isbræ (Jakobshavn Glacier) is moving ice from the Greenland ice sheet into the ocean at a speed that appears to be the fastest ever recorded. Researchers measured the dramatic speeds of the fast-flowing glacier in 2012 and 2013.

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Nile Delta Disappearing Beneath the Sea


In a report released last September, the IPCC predicts a sea level rise of 28 to 98 centimetres by 2100. Even by the most conservative estimate, this would destroy 12.5 percent of Egypt’s cultivated areas and displace about eight million people, or nearly 10 percent of the population. But it is not just rising sea levels that threaten Egypt’s northern coast, the delta itself is sinking.

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Threaten By Rising Sea, A 5 story Building Is Evacuated


The owners of a five story building built on a coastal dune in the french southwestern town of Soulac-sur-Mer, have been ordered to evacuate. Built 40 years ago, 200 meters away from the shoreline, the building now stands only 20 meters away from the ocean.

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Researchers Target Sea Level Rise to Save Years of Archaeological Evidence


Prehistoric shell mounds found on some of Florida’s most pristine beaches are at risk of washing away as the sea level rises, wiping away thousands of years of archaeological evidence.

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“We Were Once Three Miles From the Sea”


Grain by grain, West Africa’s coasts are eroding away, the dry land sucked under the water by a destructive mix of natural erosion and human meddling… Nyani Quarmyne has poignantly photographed the impacts of climate change on people living on the Ghana coast.

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Floating Towns And Oyster Beds: How US cities Are Preparing For Rising Seas


Most of America’s urban infrastructure is coastal. Of the 25 most densely populated U.S. cities, 23 are along a coast. And two of the biggest threats from climate change are increasingly intense storms and rising sea levels.

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Excessive Erosion Sweeps Hawaii Homes Out To Sea


For most of Hawaii, the winter means big swells and excellent surfing. But for one neighborhood, the recent waves caught more than just surfers.

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King Tides A Preview Of Coming Sea Rise


Sea levels off the California coast will rise up to 2 feet by 2050 and up to 5.5 feet by 2100, scientific research suggests. Already, sea levels have risen in San Francisco by 8 inches over the past century.

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Recent / Sea Level Rise

Sea Level Rise and Shoreline Changes Are Lead Influences On Floods from Tropical Cyclones


December 4th, 2013

Despite the fact that recent studies have focused on climate change impacts on the intensity and frequency of tropical cyclones themselves, sea level rise and shoreline retreat remain the two more certain factors expected to drive an increase in future flood risk from such storms.

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New Zealand Judge Rejects Climate Refugee Plea


November 29th, 2013

A New Zealand judge on Tuesday rejected a Kiribati man’s claim that he should be granted refugee status because of climate change.

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U.S. Interior Chief Stunned By Eroding S.C Island


November 25th, 2013

From the beach on this seven-mile-long natural landmark, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell stared carefully at the eerie landscape of fallen and broken trees. Once majestic hardwoods and sturdy palms, the trees were the dead victims of an encroaching sea.

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Rising Seas Threaten Coastal Lifestyle


November 19th, 2013

Facing the reality of rising seas: Western Carolina University’s Robert Young talks about the way buildings impact coastal erosion.

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French Islanders Face Rising Seas


November 16th, 2013

The 130 inhabitants of Île de Sein, a tiny island off the coast of Brittany, are survivors… now facing a new threat.

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Watching The Rising Tides Along North Carolina’s Coast


November 15th, 2013

Professor Robert Young with North Carolina Public Radio host Frank Stasio, discussing the consequences of climate change and how rising sea levels have a strong effect on the beaches of North Carolina.

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Coastal States Are Preparing The Most For Climate Change: A Study


November 14th, 2013

The Columbia Center for Climate Change Law released a report showing that land-locked states are doing the least to prepare for climate change, while many coastal states vulnerable to sea level rise and storm surges are doing the most to prepare.

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Sea Level Rise in Metro Miami, Video


November 14th, 2013

Prepared as part of the High Water Line | Miami project/movement, this video depicts sea level rise in greater metropolitan Miami at one-foot intervals, ranging from one foot to ten feet.

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Small Islands Demand U.N. Protection


November 11th, 2013

Threatened by rising seas, some of the world’s small island developing states (SIDS) are demanding that the U.N.’s new set of Sustainable Development Goals place a high priority on the protection of oceans and marine resources.

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Antarctic Glacier Flow Controlled by Speed Bumps Below


November 8th, 2013

Narrow ribs of dirt and rock beneath Antarctic glaciers help slow the glaciers’ flow into the sea, according to new research from scientists at Princeton University and the British Antarctic Survey. Understanding the factors that control the glaciers’ flow to the sea is important because their melting contributes significantly to sea level rise.

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