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

Simultaneous Disasters Batter Pacific Islands


High tides have surged over sea walls defending the capital of the Marshall Islands, adding to the crisis situation in this tiny Pacific nation, where a state of emergency was declared only last month because of a devastating drought in the scattered northern atolls.

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Predicting Hurricane-Induced Coastal Change


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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Recent / Sea Level Rise

The Vanishing Beach: Hopton coastal resort engulfed by the North Sea, UK- In Pictures


May 4th, 2013

These dramatic photos show the changing face of a popular beach that has had an astonishing 6,000 truckloads of sands washed away in just three years.

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Affordable and Accurate Technology to Identify Threats from Sea-Level Rise?


April 26th, 2013

A team of researchers led by Associate Professor Edward L. Webb of the National University of Singapore (NUS) is calling for the global adoption of a method to identify areas that are vulnerable to sea-level rise.

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Denying Sea-Level Rise: How 100 Centimeters Divided The State of North Carolina


April 23rd, 2013

On the surface, it looks like America is a place where scientists and scientific achievements are held in high regard. However, just below the surface, there is another America. This America is populated by people who, on economic, political or religious grounds, have chosen to reject the consensus of the global scientific community on various topics. By Alexander Glass and Orrin Pilkey.

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East Coast Rebuilding, But Vulnerable to Future Sandys


April 21st, 2013

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, local governments are rethinking how to best protect the U.S. coastline from storms and flooding, which appear likely to exert a larger toll as the result of sea level rise and climate change.

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Cutting Specific Atmospheric Pollutants Would Slow Sea Level Rise


April 19th, 2013

With coastal areas bracing for rising sea levels, new research indicates that cutting emissions of certain pollutants can greatly slow sea level rise this century.

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Kiribati enters the end game against climate change – in pictures


April 16th, 2013

The waves are slowly seeping over the islands of the Pacific nation, which is at the frontline of the climate change-induced rise in sea levels striking low-lying nations all over the world.

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New Sea-Level-Rise Modeling Forecasts Major Climate Impact to Low-Lying Pacific Islands


April 15th, 2013

Dynamic modeling of sea-level rise, which takes storm wind and wave action into account, paints a much graver picture for some low-lying Pacific islands under climate-change scenarios than the passive computer modeling used in earlier research, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report.

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Better Urban Planning Needed To Dodge Disasters


April 13th, 2013

With the world’s mega-cities growing even larger, policymakers, especially those in developing countries, need urban planning that will help these areas withstand the impacts of natural disasters.

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Waterworld: Cities of the future?


April 12th, 2013

For years, scientists have warned about the danger of rising sea levels, and thanks to an artist’s projections, we can see now what the impacts might look like in real life.

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Americans Back Preparation for Extreme Weather and Sea Level Rise


March 29th, 2013

Images told the story: lower Manhattan in darkness, coastal communities washed away, cars floating in muck. Superstorm Sandy, a harbinger of future extreme weather intensified by climate change, caught the U.S. off guard. Going forward, Americans face a stark choice: prepare and invest now to minimize the impact of disasters such as Sandy, or deal with storms and rising sea levels when they occur.

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