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 Coasts Can Expand


Some islands in the Pacific could be getting larger, but this doesn’t not necessarily mean sea level rise is not a threat.

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Sandy: A Warning Rising Seas Threaten Nuclear Plants


No nuclear power plant in Sandy’s path was in imminent danger of a meltdown, but the force and size of the storm surge served as a warning that rising seas and higher storm surges, could eventually have a devastating effect on the seven low-lying nuclear power generating sites on the Northeast Coast in future hurricanes…

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As Sea Level Rises, Everglades’ Freshwater Plants Perish


Satellite imagery over the southeastern Everglades confirms long-term trends of mangrove expansion and sawgrass habitat loss near the shore. The trend is related to salt water intrusion caused by sea-level rise and water management practices, according to a new study.

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IPCC “Conservative” On Sea Level Rise


The international scientific community’s new assessment of the estimated sea level rise caused by global warming is a significant development, but experts say the projections for higher sea levels in the IPCC assessment report (AR5) are still on the low side. The projections are of immediate concern to low-lying countries and small island states.

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Climate Refugee From Kiribati Faces Legal Challenge In New Zealand


A man from one of the lowest-lying nations on Earth is trying to convince New Zealand judges that he’s a refugee, suffering not from persecution, but from climate change.

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Scientists Urge Shoreline Retreat From Hawaii’s Eroding Beaches


Sea-level rise is a significant factor in the major shoreline change underway in Hawaii, where 52 to 72 percent of beaches on the chain of islands have eroded over the past century.

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Venice’s Gradual Sinking Charted by Satellites


Venice, the “floating city” of romance and gondolas, is slowly sinking into its watery foundations. A new study using modern satellite data has shown the amount that Venice is sinking with an unprecedented level of resolution.

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Rising Seas Not the Only Culprit Behind Kiribati’s Woes


Scientists say dredging, building causeways and natural climate variations are largely responsible for the flooding events that many officials in Kiribati point to as evidence that climate change-induced sea-level rise is shrinking and destroying their tropical Pacific island.

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Coastal Communities Stand on Local Climate Action, Virginia


Like so many cities along the Atlantic coast, Virginia Beach is at the frontlines of climate change, experiencing impacts like sea-level rise and recurrent coastal flooding.

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Recent / Sea Level Rise

Sea-Level Rise Drives Shoreline Retreat in Hawaii


September 4th, 2013

Sea-level rise has been isolated as a principal cause of coastal erosion in Hawaii.

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“We Are Fighting For Survival,” Pacific Islands Leader Warns


August 31st, 2013

Pacific islanders will challenge world leaders this week to act on climate change, warning that their low-lying atolls are close to becoming uninhabitable because of rising seas and increasingly severe floods, droughts and storm surges.

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Climate Panel Cites Near Certainty on Warming


August 20th, 2013

An international panel of scientists has found with near certainty that human activity is the cause of most of the temperature increases of recent decades, and warns that sea levels could conceivably rise by more than three feet by the end of the century if emissions continue at a runaway pace.

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Future Flood Losses in Major Coastal Cities: Costly Projections


August 19th, 2013

Climate change combined with rapid population increases, economic growth and land subsidence could lead to a more than nine-fold increase in the global risk of floods in large port cities between now and 2050.

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Scientists Suggest Ways to Deal With Severe storms, Coastal Erosion and Climate Change


August 8th, 2013

Eighty-four coastal and social scientists from 12 countries gathered for presentations aimed at synthesizing knowledge of the causes and impacts of sea-level rise, severe storms and other influences on coastal regions and to engage in discussion on how science can and should inform the public and policymakers about the realities of sea-level rise and coastal change.

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Due to Global Warming, End Is Virtually Certain for Coastal Cities


July 23rd, 2013

Because of carbon emissions that are virtually certain, on the basis of the lack of policy-response to global warming thus far, sea levels are now set to rise anywhere from around 8 inches to 7 feet within 100 years, and around 5 yards to 10 yards within 2,000 years.

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Climate Change Slowdown is Due to Warming of Deep oceans, Say Scientists


July 22nd, 2013

A recent slowdown in the upward march of global temperatures is likely to be the result of the slow warming of the deep oceans…

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Natural Defences Can Sharply Limit Coastal Damage


July 15th, 2013

Coastal forests, coral reefs, sand dunes, marshes and wetlands are just a few of the natural habitats that protect two-thirds of the US coastline from hazards such as hurricane, and are key to protecting lives and property against storm surges and long-term sea-level rise.

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Sea levels may rise 2.3 metres per degree of global warming, report says


July 15th, 2013

Seas will remain high for centuries after temperatures have risen, with the likelihood of more frequent and damaging storms…

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Pakistan’s Coast And Encroaching Seas


July 11th, 2013

Encroaching seas are leaving farmland increasingly saline and water-logged, and leading to a decline in fresh water fish stocks. These trends are being studied by the World Wide Fund for Nature Pakistan (WWF-P) which is in the middle of a five-year project to build climate change resistance on Pakistan’s coastline, where communities are vulnerable to cyclones, rising sea levels and storm surges.

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