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

Polar ice the size of India has melted into the sea, scientists say

As global temperatures continue to rise and break records, polar sea ice covering an area about the size of India has vanished, according to climate scientists. The trend of polar ice melt has been alarming researchers, with sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctica being measured at record lows for this time of year.

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Pacific coast marshes more resistant to rising seas than Atlantic

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

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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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Recent / Sea Level Rise

Volcanic eruption masked acceleration in sea level rise

August 29th, 2016

The cataclysmic 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines masked the full impact of greenhouse gases on accelerating sea level rise, according to a new study.

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Pacific sea level predicts global temperature changes

August 19th, 2016

The amount of sea level rise in the Pacific Ocean can be used to estimate future global surface temperatures, according to a new report led by University of Arizona geoscientists.

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Climate change prompts Shishmaref, Alaska, to vote for mainland move

August 18th, 2016

Residents of a tiny island village in Alaska that has been ravaged by erosion blamed on climate change have voted to move to the mainland, but there likely isn’t enough money for the impoverished community of just 600 people to follow through on the decision.

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Before-and-after aerial shots show dramatic WA beach erosion

August 3rd, 2016

Arresting aerial imagery has revealed both the beauty and instability of Western Australia’s coast, showing properties under threat from the Coral Coast to Perth.

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Sea level rise a big issue for military in Hampton Roads, science says

July 27th, 2016

A new Union of Concerned Scientists study evaluated the risks of climate-induced inundation at a sample of 18 military bases on the East and Gulf of Mexico coasts. Flooding and storm surge at Langley and other coastal military installations will only get worse — maybe a lot worse.

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In NC, dangerous delays and delusions on sea-level rise; Op Ed by Orrin H. Pilkey & Keith C. Pilkey

July 11th, 2016

Sea-level rise is upon us, and in the near future we will be forced to retreat from the shoreline. North Carolina has chosen the impossible path of holding the shoreline in place, locking the next generation into a future filled with catastrophic loss of property and human lives…

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Water world: rising tides close in on Trump, the climate change denier

July 7th, 2016

Climate change has barely registered as a 2016 campaign issue, but in Florida, the state which usually decides the presidential election, the waters are lapping at the doors of Donald Trump’s real estate empire.

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As sea level rises, Hudson River wetlands may expand

June 30th, 2016

In the face of climate change impact and inevitable sea level rise, scientists studying New York’s Hudson River estuary have forecast new tidal wetlands, comprising perhaps 33 percent more wetland area by the year 2100.

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Unable to Endure Rising Seas, Alaskan Villages Stuck in Limbo

June 30th, 2016

A number of Alaska Native villages have been impacted so severely by these climate-induced threats, they have decided to relocate. Yet there is no agency designated to pay for and help implement an entire community’s move.

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Rising Tides: a new award-winning documentary from J. Lazarus Auerbach and Scott Duthie

June 25th, 2016

“Rising Tides” explores the topic of coastline erosion, showing what has been done in the past, what is being done now, what worked, what didn’t and what the coastal areas can expect in the future.

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