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

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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Rising Air and Sea Temperatures Continue to Trigger Changes in the Arctic


A new NOAA-led report shows that Arctic air temperatures continue to rise at more than twice the rate of global air temperatures, a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification.

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NOAA Establishes Tipping Points for Sea Level Rise Related Flooding


By 2050, a majority of U.S. coastal areas are likely to be threatened by 30 or more days of flooding each year due to dramatically accelerating impacts from sea level rise, according to a new NOAA study.

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Aboriginal Knowledge Could Unlock Climate Solutions


Environmental and Indigenous groups are urging the government to create new partnerships with indigenous Australians in climate adaptation and mitigation policies and also to tap into indigenous knowledge of natural resource management. A number of indigenous communities live in low-lying areas near wetlands, estuaries and river systems, and have lived in harmony with the land for generations.

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Models of Greenland Ice Melting Could Be Way Off


Existing computer models may be severely underestimating the risk to Greenland’s ice sheet — which would add 20 feet to sea levels if it all melted — from warming temperatures, according to two studies released Monday.

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Queensland Deputy Orders to Remove Sea Levels Reference From Regional Plan


Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney has intervened to force the removal of all references to climate change-derived sea level rises from the regional plan of Moreton Bay Regional Council, a decision experts say could have wide ramifications.

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A Ridiculous Law Is Threatening The Future Of Coastal North Carolina Communities


Coastal North Carolina communities have gotten a raw deal from their state legislature for the past two years — and it won’t get any better for at least two more.

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Recent / Sea Level Rise

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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New Research Quantifies What’s Causing Sea Level to Rise


October 30th, 2014

There have been a number of studies recently on ocean warming and sea-level rise. Collectively, they are helping scientists unite around an emerging understanding of climate change and its impact on the Earth.

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San Francisco Rising to Threat of Swelling Seas


October 23rd, 2014

The City by the Bay, where bayfront shorelines will continue to experience worsening high tide flooding, where the nearby international airport is among the nation’s most vulnerable to floods, and where Pacific Ocean shoreline erosion could be accelerated by sea level rise, has adopted a first-in-the-nation approach to assessing potential infrastructure risks posed by rising seas.

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Venice: Long-Admired Gondola Feature Threatened by Rising Waters


October 21st, 2014

As the aqua alta -high waters- occur more frequently, largely due to rising sea levels, gondoliers are having more and more trouble getting their boats under bridges – and, as the highest part of the boat, the stern iron is becoming increasingly problematic.

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Pacific Climate Change Warriors Block World’s Largest Coal Port


October 19th, 2014

Climate Change Warriors from 12 Pacific Island nations paddled canoes into the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle, Australia, to bring attention to their grave fears about the consequences of climate change.

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Salt Marsh Plants Key to Reducing Coastal Erosion and Flooding


October 19th, 2014

The effectiveness of salt marshes – wetlands which are flooded and drained by tides – in protecting coastal areas in times of severe weather has been quantified in a study by researchers from the University of Cambridge.

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Sea Level Rise Over Past Century Unmatched in 6,000 Years, Says Study


October 15th, 2014

The rise in sea levels seen over the past century is unmatched by any period in the past 6,000 years, according to a lengthy analysis of historical sea level trends.

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