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

Sea-Level Rise Drives Shoreline Retreat in Hawaii


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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Recent / Sea Level Rise

Predicting Hurricane-Induced Coastal Change


July 2nd, 2013

The probability of hurricane-induced coastal change on sandy beaches from Florida to New York has been assessed for the first time in two U.S. Geological Survey studies.

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Crabs, Oysters Disappearing on Maryland’s Shrinking Island


June 27th, 2013

Smith Island, Maryland island is slowly disappearing…Scientists at the University of Maryland say the water level is rising in part because of climate change and that the island could disappear in 20 to 50 years.

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U.S. Airports Face Increasing Threat From Rising Seas


June 25th, 2013

Due to climate change-related sea level rise, LaGuardia and other coastal hubs throughout the U.S. face a growing risk of flooding during even modest storms.

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Goodbye, Miami


June 21st, 2013

By century’s end, rising sea levels will turn the nation’s urban fantasyland into an American Atlantis. It may be another century before the city is completely underwater, but life in the vibrant metropolis of 5.5 million people will begin to dissolve much quicker, most likely within a few decades…

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Floating Gardens


June 16th, 2013

In Bangladesh, the ancient practice of floating gardens, beds of straw and water hyacinths on which crops are grown, is making a comeback in the face of increased floods.

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Pacific Island Nation of Kiribati


June 14th, 2013

Reuters photographer David Gray spent time documenting life in the central Pacific island nation of Kiribati, a chain of 33 atolls and islands that stand just metres above sea level, spread over a huge expanse of otherwise empty ocean.

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Zanzibar’s Encroaching Ocean Means Less Water


June 12th, 2013

Khadija Komboani’s nearest well is filled with salt water thanks to the rising sea around Tanzania’s Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar.

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New Climate Data Depict a City More at Risk


June 11th, 2013

Officials say new projections show 800,000 New York City residents could be living in flood zone that would cover a quarter of the city’s land by the 2050s as rising seas and other effects of global warming take hold.

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Art Confronts Maldives’ Climate Change Controversy


June 5th, 2013

The Maldives’ first national pavilion at the Venice Biennale, the world famous art show that attracts art aficionados to this Italian lagoon city every two years, is all about climate change and the threat posed by rising sea levels to this low-lying chain of islands in the Indian Ocean.

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Shored Up, A Film By Ben Kalina


June 4th, 2013

Shored Up : When Nature and The Force Of Nature Collide. A Film by Ben Kalina. See Listing: Upcoming screenings.

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