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

Kiribati Family ‘Terrified’ of Going Home

The lawyer for the Kiribati man who has lost his bid to be declared a climate change refugee says he and his family are terrified of returning home…

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One-Two Punch of Rising Seas, Bigger Storms May Greatly Magnify U.S. East Coast Floods

Many studies predict that future sea-level rise along the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts will increase flooding. Others suggest that the human-caused warming driving this rise will also boost the intensity and frequency of big coastal storms. Now, a new study quantifies how they could interact to produce alarming spikes in the combined height and duration of flooding.

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Experts: Talk Now About Drastic Changes, Or Deal With Coastal Crisis Later

Startling recommendations proposed by the winning teams of coastal engineering and sustainability experts from around the world who took part in Changing Course, a design competition sponsored by Louisiana that kicked off in 2013, are presented.

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Atlantic Ocean Excited To Move Into Beautiful Beachfront Mansion Soon

Admitting it has had its eye on the property for quite some time, the Atlantic Ocean confirmed Monday that it was looking forward to moving into a beautiful beachfront mansion in the near future.

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NASA’s Front Porch View of Rising Seas

For the past two centuries, two trends have been steady and clear around the United States. Sea level has been rising, and more people have been moving closer to the coast.

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Unrestrained Fossil Fuel Burning Could Drown World’s Major Cities

Burning all of Earth’s fossil fuels would trigger enough global warming to completely melt the Antarctic ice sheet. It would cause sea levels to rise by 200 feet (60 meters), drowning land around the world that is currently home to more than a billion people, the researchers said in the study.

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NOAA: El Niño May Accelerate Nuisance Flooding

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

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

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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Recent / Sea Level Rise

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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Sea Defences Not Enough to Protect Delta Cities From Rising Flood Risk

August 7th, 2015

Rich nations spend huge sums to keep the seas at bay but wealth may not save them indefinitely.

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The Barrier Islands: Islands in Motion

August 3rd, 2015

North Carolina is famous for its beautiful set of coastal barrier islands. But did you know that those islands are mobile? Around 14 thousand years ago, as the last ice age was coming to a close, sea level began to rise as water was released from the glaciers.

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Rain, Storm Surge Combine to Put Coasts at Risk

July 29th, 2015

Many more coastal residents are at threat from the meteorological double whammy of freshwater flooding and storm surge, (compound flooding events) which a new study finds is a serious threat for large stretches of U.S. coast, where more than half of the country’s population lives in densely populated areas and where development has been steadily rising in recent decades.

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Disastrous Sea Level Rise Is an Issue for Today’s Public – Not Next Millennium’s

July 28th, 2015

The bottom line message scientists should deliver to policymakers is that we have a global crisis, an emergency that calls for global cooperation to reduce emissions as rapidly as practical.

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Climate Change Threatens China’s Booming Coastal Cities, Says Expert

July 27th, 2015

A recent study led by Georgina Mace, ecosystem professor at University College London, indicated that governments across the world have failed to grasp the risk that population booms in coastal cities pose as climate change continues to cause rises in sea levels and extreme weather events.

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Detailed Flood Information Key to More Reliable Coastal Storm Impact Estimates


July 24th, 2015

A new study that looked in part at how damage estimates evolve following a storm puts the total amount of building damage caused by Hurricane Sandy for all evaluated counties in New York at $23 billion. Estimates of damage by county ranged from $380 million to $5.9 billion.

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Here Are 10 Striking Images of Future Sea Levels

July 11th, 2015

To really understand what climate change could mean for coastal areas, photos really do the trick.

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Coastal Nations, Megacities Face 20 Feet of Sea Rise

July 11th, 2015

If, as suggested by a comprehensive new review in the journal Science, 2°C of global warming will lock in at least 20 feet (6 meters) of eventual sea level rise, what would 2°C of warming (3.6°F) mean for the future and heritage of global nations and cities?

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Coastal Erosion Eats Away at Mokau, New Zealand

July 10th, 2015

At one pristine coastal spot in the Waikato, less than $100,000 can buy you a tidy, three-bedroom bach. The catch is, the sea may steal the land underneath it at some point in the future.

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