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

Filipino Super-Typhoon An Ominous Warning Of Climate Change Impact


Philippines is having to adapt and adjust to rapidly deteriorating climatic trends at a great cost to its economy

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Islands Want UN To See Climate As Security Threat


The Marshall Islands and other low-lying island nations appealed to the U.N. Security Council to recognize climate change as an international security threat that jeopardizes their very survival.

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U.S. Sea Level Rise Along East Coast To Accelerate With Gulf Stream Slowdown


Experts on the sea level rise triggered by climate change have long known that it will proceed faster in some places than others.

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Retooling New York for Apocalyptic Storms


During World War II, a German U-boat made its way into New York Harbour. It fired two torpedoes at a British tanker, splitting the hull in three places and igniting it in flames. The captain and 35 members of his crew burned to death. Seventy years later, New York Harbour is Lower Manhattan’s first line of defence against another threat: the rising tides of the sea.

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Climate Change Impacts to U.S. Coasts Threaten Public Health, Safety and Economy


According to a new technical report, the effects of climate change will continue to threaten the health and vitality of U.S. coastal communities’ social, economic and natural systems.

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How High Could the Tide Go?


Researchers explored ancient rock formations on South Africa’s coast. They are looking for critical clues from records of past climate change to help predict sea level rise in a warming world.

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Iconic Beach Resorts May Not Survive Sea Level Rises


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’


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


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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Recent / Sea Level Rise

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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Middle ground Of Sea-Level Change


November 27th, 2012

New research is throwing light on another, less-familiar component of sea-level variability, the “intra-seasonal” changes that occupy the middle ground between rapid, storm-related surges in sea level and the long-term increase in sea level due to global climate change.

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The Retreat of the Gualas Glacier, Northern Patagonia


November 25th, 2012

Like many mountain glaciers, the Gualas Glacier in the Patagonian region of Chile has retreated fast during the past century in the face of climate change. But not only for the reason you’d first suspect.

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We Need to Retreat From the Beach


November 15th, 2012

As ocean waters warm, the Northeast is likely to face more Sandy-like storms. And as sea levels continue to rise, the surges of these future storms will be higher and even more deadly. We can’t stop these powerful storms. But we can reduce the deaths and damage they cause… An Op Ed by Orrin H. Pilkey.

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Venice High Water Floods 70% of City


November 13th, 2012

Venice’s high water, or “acqua alta”, said to be the sixth highest since 1872, flooded 70% of the city and was high enough to make raised wooden platforms for pedestrians float away.

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Sea Level Rise Accelerating For US East Coast


November 8th, 2012

This summer the North Carolina Senate passed a bill banning researchers from reporting predicted increases in the rate of sea level rise. But the ocean, unbound by legislation, is rising anyway, and in North Carolina this rise is accelerating, researchers reported…

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Storms, Floods, and Droughts


November 4th, 2012

The cycle that transports water around the Earth is intensifying. The ocean contains 96 percent of the free water on Earth, and it acts like a massive water pump. Now, as global temperatures have been rising, there is strong evidence that the ocean water pump has been revving up.

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Why Seas Are Rising Ahead of Predictions


November 2nd, 2012

Sea levels are rising faster than expected from global warming, and University of Colorado geologist Bill Hay has a good idea why.

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Evidence of Sea Level Acceleration at U.S. and Canadian Tide Stations, Atlantic Coast


October 18th, 2012

Sea level is rising all over the world thanks to the heat-trapping effect of greenhouse-gas emissions, but according to a new study published in the Journal of Coastal Research, the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada have seen the ocean rise at an accelerating rate in recent decades.

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11 Islands That Will Vanish When Sea Level Rise


October 12th, 2012

According to the EPA, global sea level has risen by eight inches since 1870. This change is already affecting many low lying islands that have had to adapt. View a slideshow.

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