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 globalwarmingart.com


Surfing in / Sea Level Rise

Record-Low Ice Confirmed at North and South Poles

Sea ice at Earth’s poles is dwindling, and it reached record lows this month, scientists report.

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Atlantic City and Miami Beach: two takes on tackling the rising waters

Sea level rise is making floods more common and as the New Jersey resort braces for the next Sandy, the well-heeled Florida city is throwing money at the problem

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Calif. City Tries Shifting Sands Amid Disappearing Beaches

Today, with sea level rise and erosion threatening to eat away at the sandy expanses and damage city infrastructure, Santa Monica is testing a softer intervention. In a partnership with the nonprofit Bay Foundation, 3 acres of the beach’s north end have been seeded with native California dune plants.

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Increase in extreme sea levels could endanger European coastal communities

Massive coastal flooding in northern Europe that now occurs once every century could happen every year if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, according to a new study.

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Study finds knowledge gaps on protecting cultural sites from climate change

Many cultural sites vulnerable to climate-related changes such as rising sea levels, coastal erosion and flooding from stronger storms, warn researchers.

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Some Virginia barrier islands are shrinking by the day: “You can just feel it”

Dozen islands are shrinking in Virginia’s barrier chain, which stretches for about 75 miles along the Eastern Shore.

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Coastal policy needs dose of reality; Op Ed by Orrin Pilkey

Governor-elect Roy Cooper, with whatever powers he has left, has two particularly important tasks facing him on the environmental front. One is to reinvigorate and restore the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and to bring robust science to the fore. The second task is to bring our coastal management program into the 21st Century.

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Orrin H. Pilkey: Heading over the coastal cliff in North Carolina; Op Ed

In the December 16 issue of Science, an insightful article about sea-level rise argues that there is a good possibility that the increase will exceed six feet by 2100.

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As Climate Change Accelerates, Floating Cities Look Like Less of a Pipe Dream

A plan to respond to climate change by building a city of floating islands in the South Pacific is moving forward, with the government of French Polynesia agreeing to consider hosting the islands in a tropical lagoon. But the project has critics in French Polynesia and beyond.

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Recent / Sea Level Rise

Pacific coast marshes more resistant to rising seas than Atlantic

November 25th, 2016

Pacific marshes are generally at higher elevations than Atlantic marshes, and Pacific oceanographic circulation tends to push water away from the coast, reducing the effect of sea level rise.

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Ghost Forests: How Rising Seas Are Killing Southern U.S. Woodlands

November 17th, 2016

A steady increase in sea levels is pushing saltwater into U.S. wetlands, killing trees from Florida to as far north as New Jersey. But with sea level projected to rise by as much as six feet this century, the destruction of coastal forests is expected to become a worsening problem worldwide.

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Can Miami Beach Hold Its Ground Against King Tides?

November 4th, 2016

A city must decide whether to retreat or stand and fight when rising seas come crashing in…Located on a barrier island off the southeastern coast of Florida, Miami Beach is ground zero for sea-level rise. On November 14, we’ll see the largest supermoon rise since 1948.

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West Africa Is Being Swallowed by the Sea

October 22nd, 2016

Encroaching waters off the coast of Togo, Ghana, Mauritania, and others are destroying homes, schools, fish, and a way of life.

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Scientists find link between tropical storms, decline of river deltas

October 19th, 2016

A change in the patterns of tropical storms is threatening the future of the Mekong River delta in Vietnam, research shows, indicating a similar risk to other deltas around the world.

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Hurricane Sandy-Level Floods Likely to Hit NYC More Often

October 17th, 2016

Disastrous floods like those seen during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 may hit New York City 17 times more often in the next century, a new study finds.

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Hurricane Matthew’s Destructive Storm Surges Hint at New Normal

October 11th, 2016

The coastal U.S. is highly vulnerable to rising seas, which are expected to surge in the coming years. Will this storm be a wake-up call?

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As the climate warms, we are ‘primed’ for worse storms than Sandy

October 8th, 2016

With the climate warming and the sea level rising, conditions are ripe for storms deadlier and more devastating than Sandy that put more people at risk. If damaging storms become more frequent, retreat from areas with mounting repetitive losses will become a topic of discussion.

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Belgium is to build its first artificial island off the coast, as climate change mitigation

October 4th, 2016

Amid rising seas, Belgium plans on building an artificial island off its coast, in a step towards climate change mitigation. 8 millions euros have been provided in funding of the project study.

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Resettling the First American Climate Refugees – Louisiana

October 4th, 2016

The Isle de Jean Charles resettlement plan is one of the first programs of its kind in the world, a test of how to respond to climate change in the most dramatic circumstances without tearing communities apart.

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