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

Sea Level Rise in Metro Miami, Video


Prepared as part of the High Water Line | Miami project/movement, this video depicts sea level rise in greater metropolitan Miami at one-foot intervals, ranging from one foot to ten feet.

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Small Islands Demand U.N. Protection


Threatened by rising seas, some of the world’s small island developing states (SIDS) are demanding that the U.N.’s new set of Sustainable Development Goals place a high priority on the protection of oceans and marine resources.

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Antarctic Glacier Flow Controlled by Speed Bumps Below


Narrow ribs of dirt and rock beneath Antarctic glaciers help slow the glaciers’ flow into the sea, according to new research from scientists at Princeton University and the British Antarctic Survey. Understanding the factors that control the glaciers’ flow to the sea is important because their melting contributes significantly to sea level rise.

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Sea Surrender Plan To Ease Flood Fears On South Coast, UK


A scheme to combat flooding by surrendering land to the sea will be completed on Monday on the south coast.

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Is Global Heating Hiding Out in the Oceans?


A recent slowdown in global warming has led some skeptics to renew their claims that industrial carbon emissions are not causing a century-long rise in Earth’s surface temperatures. But rather than letting humans off the hook, a new study adds support to the idea that the oceans are taking up some of the excess heat, at least for the moment.

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Scientists Develop New Method to Help Global Coasts Adapt to Sea-Level Rise


A team of scientists, led by the University of Southampton, has developed a new method to help the world’s coasts adapt to global sea-level rises over the next 100 years.

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Island Coasts Can Expand


Some islands in the Pacific could be getting larger, but this doesn’t not necessarily mean sea level rise is not a threat.

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Sandy: A Warning Rising Seas Threaten Nuclear Plants


No nuclear power plant in Sandy’s path was in imminent danger of a meltdown, but the force and size of the storm surge served as a warning that rising seas and higher storm surges, could eventually have a devastating effect on the seven low-lying nuclear power generating sites on the Northeast Coast in future hurricanes…

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As Sea Level Rises, Everglades’ Freshwater Plants Perish


Satellite imagery over the southeastern Everglades confirms long-term trends of mangrove expansion and sawgrass habitat loss near the shore. The trend is related to salt water intrusion caused by sea-level rise and water management practices, according to a new study.

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Recent / Sea Level Rise

Climate Science: Rising tide


September 19th, 2013

Researchers struggle to project how fast, how high and how far the oceans will rise.

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The New State of Nature: Rising Sea-levels, Climate Justice, and Community-based Adaptation in Papua New Guinea


September 16th, 2013

Rising sea-levels lay waste to more than coastlines. From the viewpoint of the state, they erode its claim to territorial sovereignty and call its concept of legal equity into question. From the viewpoints of low-lying, natural resource-dependent communities, the tides threaten autonomy, well-being, and, not least, property.

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Rising Seas, National Geographic


September 12th, 2013

Faced with the largest storm ever spawned over the Atlantic, New York and other cities ordered mandatory evacuations of low-lying areas. Not everyone complied. Those who chose to ride out Sandy got a preview of the future, in which a warmer world will lead to inexorably rising seas…

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Oil Industry and Smoke From Residential Burning Speed Arctic Thaw


September 10th, 2013

Gas flaring by the oil industry and smoke from residential burning contributes more black carbon pollution to Arctic than previously thought, potentially speeding the melting of Arctic sea ice.

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Trying to Shame Dune Holdouts at Jersey Shore


September 7th, 2013

Some oceanfront properties owners have refused to grant easements to allow the federal government to build a massive dune along a 50-mile stretch of the Jersey Shore. Without the protective ridge of sand, engineers predict it is only a matter of time before homes, neighborhoods, even entire communities are wiped out by rising seas.

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Caribbean Water Supplies Severely Threatened By Climate Change, Scientists Warn


September 6th, 2013

Experts are sounding a new alarm about the effects of climate change for parts of the Caribbean , the depletion of already strained drinking water throughout much of the region.

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Sea-Level Rise Drives Shoreline Retreat in Hawaii


September 4th, 2013

Sea-level rise has been isolated as a principal cause of coastal erosion in Hawaii.

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“We Are Fighting For Survival,” Pacific Islands Leader Warns


August 31st, 2013

Pacific islanders will challenge world leaders this week to act on climate change, warning that their low-lying atolls are close to becoming uninhabitable because of rising seas and increasingly severe floods, droughts and storm surges.

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Climate Panel Cites Near Certainty on Warming


August 20th, 2013

An international panel of scientists has found with near certainty that human activity is the cause of most of the temperature increases of recent decades, and warns that sea levels could conceivably rise by more than three feet by the end of the century if emissions continue at a runaway pace.

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Future Flood Losses in Major Coastal Cities: Costly Projections


August 19th, 2013

Climate change combined with rapid population increases, economic growth and land subsidence could lead to a more than nine-fold increase in the global risk of floods in large port cities between now and 2050.

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