Sea Level Rise
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
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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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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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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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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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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To really understand what climate change could mean for coastal areas, photos really do the trick.
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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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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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At their recent summit in Germany, G7 leaders agreed to limit global warming to 2°C, but along Senegal’s coast, the consequences of climate change are already tangible. The coastline is suffering severe land loss due to erosion.
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