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

Here Are 10 Striking Images of Future Sea Levels

To really understand what climate change could mean for coastal areas, photos really do the trick.

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Coastal Nations, Megacities Face 20 Feet of Sea Rise

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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Coastal Erosion Eats Away at Mokau, New Zealand

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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Erosion and the Disappearance of Senegal’s coast

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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Accelerated Warming of the Continental Shelf Off Northeast Coast

A couple of unexplained large scale changes in the waters off the northeast coast of the U.S. have oceanographers perplexed: an accelerated rate of sea level rise compared to most other parts of the world; and the disturbing signs of collapsing fisheries in the region.

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Growing Climate Change Threat to Britain’s Historic Coastline

Hundreds of miles of British coastline – so long the symbol of this nation’s island story – are collapsing through worsening erosion. A report by the National Trust (NT) later this year is expected to warn that more action will be needed to protect threatened sites.

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15 Facts About Sea Level Rise; A CNN Report

We’re talking about the future here, so estimates vary by source, but the bottom line is this: Our actions today will create the world future generations will have to inhabit. Here’s a look at some of the scariest data about how much ocean levels could rise, and when.

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Last Call for Larsen B

Located on the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, the Larsen B remnant is about 1,600 square kilometers (625 square miles) in area and as much as 500 meters (1,640 feet) thick. This last remaining section of Larsen B Ice Shelf, which partially collapsed in 2002, is weakening and is likely to disintegrate completely before the end of the decade.

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Greenland Ice Loss: Follow the Water

In Greenland, scientists who wish to understand ice loss will follow the water. Greenland mass loss is rising exponentially and leading to higher sea level rise. A video by Yale Climate Forum.

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Recent / Sea Level Rise

That ‘More Realistic’ Sea-Level Report? Not Good News for NC

May 6th, 2015

An Op-Ed by Robert Young, director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines and a professor of coastal geology at Western Carolina University.

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Climate: 9 Questions on Rising Seas

May 6th, 2015

How and why are the seas rising?

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Melting Antarctic: Failure to Act Now on Emissions Could Raise Oceans by Metres

May 5th, 2015

In recent decades, Antarctica and Greenland have played minor roles in the world’s rising oceans. But this is changing. Rising sea levels don’t just put places underwater, but every centimetre increases the impacts that storm surges have on people, homes and coastal infrastructure.

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The State That ‘Outlawed Climate Change’ Accepts Latest Sea-Level Rise Report

May 5th, 2015

Five years ago, the Science Panel of the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commissioner presented a report outlining that sea levels along the coast could rise as much as 39 inches over the next 100 years. The General Assembly passed a law forbidding communities from using this report to pass new rules. Now, almost three years later, the scientists have come back with a new report, but it is hardly complete and universal.

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Engineers Warn East Coast Storms Point to Future Flooding, Erosion risks, Push for Town Planning Changes

May 4th, 2015

Recent catastrophic flood events in New South Wales should sound warnings for communities across the country, water engineers say.

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Duck Beach is Sinking Fast and Deep, NC

May 4th, 2015

The beach at Duck is sinking faster than the ocean is rising. The phenomenon, called vertical land movement, is a lesser-known part of the debate over sea-level rise…

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From Texas to Maine: NOAA’s Expanded Flood Information Tool

April 23rd, 2015

A NOAA flood exposure risk mapping tool that was developed in New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania has now been expanded to cover coastal areas along the entire U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.

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County Declares Six Houses on Buxton Beach Unsafe, NC

April 23rd, 2015

A Dare County building inspector has put up “unsafe structure” notices on six oceanfront houses north of this town on Hatteras Island, NC. Most of the recent erosion seems to be in an area where owners had placed sandbags in front of the houses.

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Miami Beach Sees Rising Seas as No Threat to Real Estate Boom, For Now

April 22nd, 2015

Miami Beach’s condo boom is bubbling hot, with glass towers being built as fast as they can be—even as scientists say rising seas could swamp much of the storied city by the century’s end.

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Report: Soft Sand will Eventually End Beach Driving in Volusia County, Florida

April 19th, 2015

Soft sand shifting south will eventually mean cars will no longer be able to drive along the beaches in Volusia County. According to the study, ocean levels are rising every year, which means Mother Nature may eventually decide if cars should remain on the beach regardless of what the sand does. The report also states cities with limited beach driving have higher real estate values.

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