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

New Data Reveal Stunning Acceleration of Sea Level Rise

The oceans have heaved up and down as world temperatures have waxed and waned, but as new research tracking the past 2,800 years shows, never during that time did the seas rise as sharply or as suddenly as has been the case during the last century.

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Can art help? Museums joining the conversation about sea-level rise and climate change

Topics like climate change and sea-level rise are not only reserved for government and university research. The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art and local museums, are joining the conversation.

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Study: Rising Seas Slowed by Increasing Water on Land

New measurements from a NASA satellite have allowed researchers to identify and quantify, for the first time, how climate-driven increases of liquid water storage on land have temporarily slowed the rate of sea level rise by about 20 percent.

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Sea-level rise ‘could last twice as long as human history’

Huge sea-level rises caused by climate change will last far longer than the entire history of human civilisation to date, according to new research, unless the brief window of opportunity of the next few decades is used to cut carbon emissions drastically.

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Antarctic study identifies melting ice sheet’s role in sea level rise

Loss of ice in Antarctica caused by a warming ocean could raise global sea levels by three meters, research suggests.

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Protect S.C. coast: No retreat from ‘line in the sand’

South Carolina faces an historic opportunity this legislative session, with a vote on the floor likely in the coming weeks. The time could not come soon enough, as our coastal communities face record-breaking storm surges, sea level rise, and flooding events.

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Shifting Sands, Shifted Rights: The Beach as Contested Space

Determining rights to Florida’s sandy beaches has presented a thorny set of issues. But for many years, the public and private interests have co-existed. Now, along with population growth, sea level rise and relentless erosion have become an uncomfortable reality. The infinite variety of scenarios that sea level rise is presenting and will present along the coast will challenge our legal system in many ways.

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Climate change: Ocean warming underestimated

To date, research on the effects of climate change has underestimated the contribution of seawater expansion to sea level rise due to warming of the oceans. A team of researchers has now investigated, using satellite data, that this effect was almost twice as large over the past twelve years than previously assumed. That may result in, for example, significantly increased risks of storm surges.

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Normal weather drives salt marsh erosion

Waves from moderate storms, rather than violent events such as hurricanes, inflict the most loss on coastal wetlands. Globally, salt marshes are being lost to waves, changes in land use, higher sea levels, loss of sediment from upstream dams and other factors.

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Recent / Sea Level Rise

Bangladesh’s Kutubdia island losing battle to stem climate tide


December 7th, 2015

Although around 100,000 people still reside on Kutubdia, few have any illusions they are living on borrowed time, with Coast – a Bangladeshi NGO – warning the whole island could disappear underwater within 50 years. Tens of thousands have already left for good, mainly heading to the teeming capital Dhaka.

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Column: The future of Florida’s beaches and the public’s right to know; Op Ed. by Orrin Pilkey

December 7th, 2015

“The state of Florida has a very weak coastal management program and has carried out no realistic planning about how to respond to sea-level rise. In fact, leading politicians of the state, including the governor, deny global climate change and have forbidden their lieutenants from even mentioning the seven words “climate change, global warming, sea level rise…”

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Sinking into Paradise: Climate Change Worsening Coastal Erosion in Trinidad

November 24th, 2015

The coastline of Trinidad is under threat as seas rise, storms grow heavier, and as sand is washed away. Seas in the region have been rising by more than 2 millimeters every year — though scientists are still trying to pinpoint the role of climate change in accelerating local beach erosion.

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How Coastal Real Estate Is Being Impacted By Climate Change

November 17th, 2015

Accelerated sea-level rise and growing storm intensity, two widely studied effects of climate change, are giving the oceans a powerful edge in the age-old battle against continental shorelines. The impact is not only environmental, but economical.

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Greenland Glacier Sheds Billions of Tonnes of Ice Into Ocean

November 12th, 2015

A glacier in northeast Greenland that holds enough water to raise global sea levels by more than 18 inches (50 cms) has come unmoored from a stabilizing sill and is crumbling into the North Atlantic Ocean. Losing mass at a rate of 5 billion tons per year, glacier Zachariae Isstrom entered a phase of accelerated retreat in 2012.

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Crescent Beach Arms Itself Against The Rising Sea, BC

November 12th, 2015

Crescent Beach is a sleepy beachfront community thrust into battle. This sweeping ocean coastline with dramatic views of B.C.’s Boundary Bay has been home to people for nearly 3,000 years. Today’s residents find themselves besieged by climate change and its tidal onslaught.

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Interactive Images Show Impact of Sea Level Rise on Global Icons

November 10th, 2015

Long-term sea level rise set in motion by near-term carbon emissions threatens major coastal cities across the world. Climate Central presents projections of sea level rise that could be locked in following 2°C and 4°C of warming from carbon pollution in the coming decades. This pathway corresponds roughly to business as usual.

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Megacities Hit Hard by Surging Sea Levels Even at 2C Rise: Study

November 9th, 2015

Large swathes of Shanghai, Mumbai, New York and other cities will slip under the waves even if an upcoming climate summit limits global warming to two degrees Celsius, scientists reported Sunday.

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Climate Change Could Create 100 million Poor, Over Half a Billion Homeless

November 9th, 2015

Rising sea levels from unchecked carbon emissions could drive more than 100 million people into extreme poverty and submerge the homes of over half a billion, two new reports say.

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A Tale of Two Northern European Cities: Meeting the Challenges of Sea Level Rise

November 7th, 2015

For centuries, Rotterdam and Hamburg have had to contend with the threat of storm surges and floods.

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