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

Satellite Science Improves Storm Surge Forecasting Around the World


A new online resource which will help coastguards, meteorological organisations and scientific communities predict future storm surge patterns has been created.

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Greenland’s Hidden Meltwater Lakes Store Up Trouble


Scientists find evidence of vast ‘storage tanks’ of water deep below the melting Greenland ice sheet that could have a major effect on sea level rise.

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Flooding Could Become Daily Problem in N.C. by 2045


North Carolina’s coast will see more frequent and more destructive floods at high tide over the next 30 years, several studies say – even on mild, sunny days – as rising sea levels shove the Atlantic Ocean higher onto our shores.

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U.S. Cities Lag in Race against Rising Seas


In just a few decades, most U.S. coastal regions are likely to experience at least 30 days of nuisance flooding every year.

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For Vulnerable Barrier Islands, A Rush to Rebuild on U.S. Coast


Despite warnings from scientists, new construction continues on U.S. barrier islands that have been devastated by storms. The flood protection projects that accompany this development can have harmful consequences for coastal ecosystems being buffeted by climate change.

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Sea Level Rising Faster Than Previously Thought


The world’s oceans are now rising far faster than they did in the past, a new study says.

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Pakistan’s Coastal Villagers Retreat as Seas Gobble Land


Climate change is clearly increasing vulnerabilities in the Indus Delta area. Sea-level rise is contributing to higher storm surges, erosion, flooding and salinity, according to WWF-Pakistan.

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Integrated Farming: The Only Way to Survive a Rising Sea


Increased salinity now affects farmlands in 52 of the roughly 102 inhabited islands on the Indian side of the massive tidal mangrove forest covering some 10,000 km in the vast Bay of Bengal delta.

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North Carolina Should Move With Nature on Coast


Sandbags can’t hold back the sea. Neither will a state policy allowing “terminal groins,” barriers of rock and steel that run perpendicular to the shore in a futile effort to make a shifting coastline stable.

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Recent / Sea Level Rise

Erosion Worsens at Topsail North Beach, NC


December 1st, 2014

Ongoing efforts to address erosion at the north end of Topsail Island took on more urgency this week after a weekend storm pounded the shoreline.

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Mediterranean Meteorological Tide Has Increased by over a Millimeter a Year Since 1989


November 28th, 2014

A new database developed provides information on sea level variation due to atmospheric changes in the south of Europe between 1948 and 2009. Over the last two decades sea levels have increased in the Mediterranean basin.

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Women on the Edge of Land and Life


November 26th, 2014

November is the cruelest month for landless families in the Indian Sundarbans, the largest single block of tidal mangrove forest in the world lying primarily in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal.

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6 Years After Hurricane Ike, Texas Coast Remains Vulnerable


November 24th, 2014

The paralysis in Texas reflects a troubling truth: The United States lacks a unified national response to the threat posed by rising sea levels.

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Salinity Counts When it Comes to Sea Level


November 20th, 2014

Using ocean observations and a large suite of climate models, scientists have found that long-term salinity changes have a stronger influence on regional sea level changes than previously thought.

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Fast-Warming Gulf of Maine Offers Hint of Future for Oceans


November 18th, 2014

The waters off the coast of New England are warming more rapidly than almost any other ocean region on earth. Scientists are now studying the resulting ecosystem changes, and their findings could provide a glimpse of the future for many of the world’s coastal communities.

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Saltwater Moves Into Drinking Water Aquifers


November 7th, 2014

Saltwater has migrated inland into freshwater aquifers that supply hundreds of private and public wells in the New Hanover County, North Carolina, according to a new U.S.G.S report. The results of the study are a telltale sign of how the demand from a population that has exploded since the 1990s has affected aquifers, sources that will continue to be pressured if population growth projections are fulfilled …

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Massive Geographic Change May Have Triggered Rise in Sea Level and Explosion of Animal Life


November 3rd, 2014

New research suggests a major tectonic event may have triggered the rise in sea level and other environmental changes that accompanied the apparent burst of life, 530 million years ago during the Cambrian explosion.

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That Sinking Feeling: Rising Sea Level Isn’t Cities’ Only Water Worry


November 3rd, 2014

Some of the world’s expanding coastal cities face a two-pronged threat involving water: excessive groundwater pumping can cause the ground below to sink at the same time that sea levels are rising.

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What New York City Can Learn From Its Relationship With The Sea


October 31st, 2014

From the days when Mannahatta island was home to the indigenous Lenape tribe to today’s five-borough metropolis that houses more than 8 million people, one thing has remained constant: the story of New York City cannot be separated from water.

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