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

New regional sea level scenarios help communities prepare for risks

Sea level rise is occurring worldwide, but not at the same rate everywhere. Differences will also likely continue in the future, so decision-makers need local information to assess their community’s vulnerability.

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Rising water is swallowing up the Louisiana coastline: the $50 billion battle plan

The geography of the Louisiana coastline is quickly changing. A state-commissioned report predicts rising water could swallow more land along the Gulf of Mexico, if nothing is done to address damage caused by climate change and commercial activity. A new master plan of 2017 calls for an investment of more than $50 billion over 50 years.

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New Sea-Level Rise Projection Raises Threat to World’s Coasts

About one-quarter of the world’s population lives in coastal areas that will be unlivable by the year 2100 because of rising sea levels, researchers say.

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Close Look at a Crack on Larsen C

The rift in Larsen C measures about 100 meters (300 feet) wide and cuts about half a kilometer (one-third of a mile) deep—completely through to the bottom of the ice shelf. While the rift is long and growing longer, it does not yet reach across the entire shelf. When that happens, Larsen C will shed an iceberg about the size of Delaware.

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Growing Pains: Arctic Sea Ice at Record Lows

Every northern fall and winter, cooling ocean and air temperatures cause the floating cap of Arctic sea ice to grow from its annual minimum extent toward a maximum between February and April. So far in 2016, though, the Arctic Ocean and neighboring seas have been slow to freeze, setting both daily and monthly record lows.

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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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Recent / Sea Level Rise

Growing Pains: Arctic Sea Ice at Record Lows

December 6th, 2016

Every northern fall and winter, cooling ocean and air temperatures cause the floating cap of Arctic sea ice to grow from its annual minimum extent toward a maximum between February and April. So far in 2016, though, the Arctic Ocean and neighboring seas have been slow to freeze, setting both daily and monthly record lows.

Read More

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

December 5th, 2016

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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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