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

It’s Move It or Lose It in Path of a Nor’easter


As a nor’easter pounded Plum Island, Mass., this month, moving trucks were being filled with belongings from damaged homes. Officials say some houses should be moved away from the coastline.

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Katrina-Like Storm Surges Could Become Norm


Last year’s devastating flooding in New York City from Hurricane Sandy was the city’s largest storm surge on record. Though Hurricane Sandy was considered a 100-year-event, a storm that lashes a region only once a century, a new study finds global warming could bring similar destructive storm surges to the Gulf and East Coasts of the United States every other year before 2100.

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Significant Contribution of Greenland’s Peripheral Glaciers to Sea-Level Rise


Glaciers at the edge of Greenland which are not connected to its huge ice sheet, or can be clearly separated from it, are contributing to sea-level rise much more than previously thought.

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Hunting High Sea Levels in South Africa


Along the coast of South Africa, researchers explore ancient rock formations dating to a period about 120,000 years ago when the earth was warmer and sea level was higher than today, trying to find clues and determine just how high the oceans might rise in a warmer world.

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Canada’s Arctic Glaciers Headed For Unstoppable Thaw


Canada’s Arctic Archipelago glaciers will melt faster than ever in the next few centuries.

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The Making of Antarctica’s Hidden Fjords


Antarctica’s topography began changing from flat to fjord-filled starting about 34 million years ago. Knowing when Antarctica’s topography started shifting from a flat landscape to one with glaciers, fjords and mountains is important for modeling how the Antarctic ice sheet affects global climate and sea-level rise.

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As Sea Ice Melts, Storm Surges Batter Arctic Coasts


As each Arctic summer brings less sea ice, two new studies warn of major changes, from devastating storm surges to huge increases in shipping.

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Uneven Global Sea-Level Rise Predicted


Scientists have known for some time that sea level rise around the globe will not be uniform, but in this study researchers show in great detail the global pattern of sea-level rise that would result from two scenarios of ice-loss from glaciers and ice sheets.

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Reduced Sea Ice Disturbs Balance of Greenhouse Gases


The widespread reduction in Arctic sea ice is causing significant changes to the balance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This is shown in a new study conducted by researchers from Lund University in Sweden, among others.

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Recent / Sea Level Rise

Iconic Beach Resorts May Not Survive Sea Level Rises


January 16th, 2013

Professor Andrew Cooper, Professor of Coastal Studies in the School of Environmental Sciences at the university’s Coleraine campus, said a rise in sea level of even a few feet could threaten some of the world’s most iconic resorts.

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Antarctica Glacier’s Retreat ‘Unprecedented’


January 15th, 2013

In recent decades, Pine Island Glacier’s rapid retreat raised fears that the glacier could “collapse,” freeing the ice sheet it buffers to flow even more rapidly into the southern seas. The West Antarctic Ice contributes 0.15 to 0.30 millimeters per year to sea level rise.

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Too Big to Flood? Megacities Face Future of Major Storm Risk


January 12th, 2013

As economic activity and populations continue to expand in coastal urban areas, particularly in Asia, hundreds of trillions of dollars of infrastructure, industrial and office buildings, and homes are increasingly at risk from intensifying storms and rising sea levels.

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Future Sea Level Rise from Melting Ice Sheets May Be Substantially Greater Estimated


January 9th, 2013

Future sea level rise due to the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets could be substantially larger than estimated in Climate Change 2007, the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC, according to new research from the University of Bristol.

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Mutant Fruit Trees to Grow in Saline Soils in Cuba


December 20th, 2012

During some parts of the year, a layer of salt can be seen on the ground in eastern Cuba, which makes it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to farm. Since agronomist Orlando Coto saw this with his own eyes, he has been searching for salt-tolerant fruit trees.

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King tides test California coast, show what sea-level rise could mean


December 14th, 2012

Some Californians were in for another day of ankle-deep seawater in low-lying coastal communities Friday as unusually high “king tides” pulled the Pacific farther ashore than normal.

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Coastal Erosion Threatens Cape Breton Homes, Nova Scotia


December 9th, 2012

Sea ice once offered some protection, but there’s much less ice these days as the wind and waves are bringing the shoreline closer to their front doors, some Cape Breton residents fear their homes will be washed away…

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Carbon Dioxide Emissions Rise to 2.4 million Pounds Per Second


December 3rd, 2012

The amount of heat-trapping pollution the world spewed rose again last year by 3 percent. So scientists say it’s now unlikely that global warming can be limited to a couple of degrees, which is an international goal.

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Coastal Erosion Reaches Alarming Levels in Vietnam


November 29th, 2012

For the last decade, many families in this southwestern Vietnamese province have been uprooted at least once every two years, but this is not due to economic or political upheaval.

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Rising Seas, Vanishing Coastlines


November 27th, 2012

The oceans have risen and fallen throughout Earth’s history, following the planet’s natural temperature cycles. Twenty thousand years ago, what is now New York City was at the edge of a giant ice sheet, and the sea was roughly 400 feet lower. But as the last ice age thawed, the sea rose to where it is today.

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