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

NOAA awards $1.1 Million to Support Coastal Communities Facing Changing Sea Levels and Coastal Flooding

NOAA has awarded more than $1.1 million for research to give coastal communities new ways to incorporate natural infrastructure, such as restored wetlands, into their coastal resilience planning for sea level rise and coastal flooding.

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Escaping the Waves: a Fijian Village Relocates, a Video

Sailosi Ramatu, headman of Vunidogoloa in Fiji, takes us to visit his old home, one of the first villages in the world to relocate due to rising sea levels caused by climate change. “When many understand climate change in concept but not through personal experience, this exhibit carries great weight…”

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Many Atolls May be Uninhabitable Within Decades Due to Climate Change

A new study shows that the combined effect of storm-induced wave-driven flooding and sea level rise on island atolls may be more severe and happen sooner than previous estimates of inundation predicted by passive “bathtub” modeling for low-lying atoll islands, and especially at higher sea levels forecasted for the future due to climate change.

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Flood Risk on Rise for New York City, New Jersey Coast, Study Finds

For the first time, climate researchers compared both sea-level rise rates and storm surge heights in prehistoric and modern eras and found that the combined increases of each have raised the likelihood of a devastating 500-year flood occurring as often as every 25 years.

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The Waters are Rising on NASA’s Shores

Sea level also matters in a horizontal direction. A rule of thumb is that 1 inch of vertical change in sea level translates into 100 inches of horizontal loss on a flat beach or marsh. In this way, a little bit of sea level rise can translate into a lot of water moving inland when there are storms or abnormally high tides.

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Extreme Pacific Sea Level Events to Double in Future

Many tropical Pacific island nations are struggling to adapt to gradual sea level rise stemming from warming oceans and melting ice caps. Now they may also see much more frequent extreme sea level swings.The culprit is a projected behavioral change of the El Niño phenomenon and its characteristic Pacific wind response.

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Does Beach Erosion Affect Oceanfront Property Prices?

Do people tend to ignore looming problems until the wolf – or in this case, the ocean – is just outside the door? That may be the case, at least when it comes to certain pricey beach-front property.

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El Niño and La Niña will Exacerbate Coastal Hazards Across Entire Pacific

The projected upsurge of severe El Niño and La Niña events will cause an increase in storm events leading to extreme coastal flooding and erosion in populated regions across the Pacific Ocean, according to a multi-agency study.

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Professor Lectures on Rate of Rising Sea Levels

The modern rate at which sea levels are rising is comparatively higher than previously believed, geophysics professor said at the Harvard Geological Lecture Hall.

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Recent / Sea Level Rise

NOAA: El Niño May Accelerate Nuisance Flooding

September 10th, 2015

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

September 3rd, 2015

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

August 31st, 2015

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

August 30th, 2015

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

August 26th, 2015

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

August 26th, 2015

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)

August 24th, 2015

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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Mississippi River Mouth Must Be Abandoned to Save New Orleans from Next Hurricane

August 23rd, 2015

Extensive studies done after Katrina verified what lifelong residents of southeastern Louisiana already knew: Unless the rapidly disappearing wetlands are made healthy again, restoring the natural defense, New Orleans will soon lay naked against the sea.

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Vanishing Stories in a Vanishing Country

August 16th, 2015

One of the clearest, and far-less-talked-about, injustices of climate change is that it threatens to disappear entire countries.

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Pilkey’s Call: Save The Beaches

August 9th, 2015

Beaches move, and with rising sea levels they are moving faster. People try to slow or halt the process by dredging up sand or erecting imposing seawalls, but those are destructive and doomed efforts. To save the beaches, we must let beaches go where and how they want.

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