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

Ice-shelf collapse from subsurface warming as a trigger for Heinrich events.

An analysis of prehistoric “Heinrich events”creating mass discharges of icebergs into the North Atlantic Ocean, make it clear that very small amounts of subsurface warming of water can trigger a rapid collapse of ice shelves, scientists say.

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Ancient Tides Quite Different From Today

Geological forces that act over hundreds to millions of years, such as plate tectonics, ice ages, land uplift, erosion and sedimentation, have caused the tides, generally thought to be one of the most predictable forces on Earth, to vary wildly throughout history, according to a new study.

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Unexpected Source of Sea Level Rise Found

Surprising patterns of melting during the last interglacial period suggest that Greenland’s ice may be more stable, and Antarctica’s less stable, than many thought, a new study shows.

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UN climate change conference and the world security

The UN Security Council expressed concern that the possible adverse effects of climate change could aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security and that the loss of territory in some States due to sea-level rise, particularly in small low-lying island States, could have possible security implications.

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The Rising Sea

On Shishmaref Island in Alaska, homes are being washed into the sea. In the South Pacific, small island nations face annihilation by encroaching waters. In coastal Louisiana, an area the size of a football field disappears every day. For these communities, sea level rise isn’t a distant, abstract fear: it’s happening now and it’s threatening their way of life… A book by Orrin H. Pilkey and Rob Young, published by Island Press.

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Rising Oceans: Too Late to Turn the Tide?

Unless we dramatically curb global warming, we are in for centuries of sea level rise at a rate of up to three feet per century. Much of the world’s population lives relatively close to sea level, thus this is going to have huge impacts, especially on poor countries.

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Strong El Niño could bring increased sea levels, storm surges to U.S. East Coast

Coastal communities along the U.S. East Coast may be at risk to higher sea levels accompanied by more destructive storm surges in future El Niño years, according to a new study by NOAA.

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Forests soak up third of fossil fuel emissions: study

An international team of climate scientists released a study showing the role global forests have played as regulators of the atmosphere. This is the first complete and global evidence of the overwhelming role of forests in removing anthropogenic carbon dioxide.

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US West Coast Erosion Spiked In Winter 2009-10, Previewing Likely Future As Climate Changes

Knowing that the U.S. west coast was battered during the winter before last by a climatic pattern expected more often in the future, scientists have now pieced together a San Diego-to-Seattle assessment of the damage wrought by that winter’s extreme waves and higher-than-usual water levels.

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Recent / Sea Level Rise

Sea-level study brings good and bad news to Chesapeake Bay

December 22nd, 2010

A new study of local sea-level trends by researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science brings both good and bad news to localities concerned with coastal inundation and flooding along the shores of Chesapeake Bay.

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Magdalen Islands and Shoreline Erosion, Québec

December 19th, 2010

In Québec, shoreline erosion primarily affects the estuarine regions and the Gulf of St-Lawrence that extends from Québec city to the Magdalen Islands.

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Pacific Islands: Duel Between Freshwater and Sea Water

December 18th, 2010

It is said that the first refugees of climate change will come from the Pacific coral islands. Scientists are assessing what will happen to freshwater resources as a consequence of expected changes in the climate and sea level.

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Worsening Coastal Erosion, Québec

December 17th, 2010

A fierce storm and high tides washed away large sections of the shoreline along the St. Lawrence River, leaving homes perilously close to the water’s edge. A State of alert remains as new high tides are expected around December 22nd and 24th.

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Battling Ghana’s Eroding Coastline

December 13th, 2010

For Ghana, the real story of coastal erosion is not about what lies at the water’s edge, but what occurs beneath the waves offshore. In the capital city of Accra, an estimated 70 percent of the beach is eroding at rates exceeding 3 feet per year.

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Climate change still a hard sell, especially when it’s freezing out

December 10th, 2010

The climatic consequences of our actions will fall mostly upon others, in other parts of the world and in that distant country, the future.

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Global Warming Mapped, NASA


December 10th, 2010

The world is getting warmer. Whether the cause is human activity or natural variability, thermometer readings all around the world have risen steadily since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

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If an island state vanishes, is it still a nation?

December 6th, 2010

No country has ever physically disappeared, and it’s a real void in the law. The Marshallese government faced with set of issues unique in the history of the system of nation-states associated with sea level rise impacts that are not adequately addressed in the international legal framework, seeks advice from the Center for Climate Change Law at New York’s Columbia University. Legal scholars worldwide have been asked to assemble at Columbia, next May to begin to piece together answers.

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55 Percent of Venice Under Acqua Alta, Italy

December 4th, 2010

Three main factors have worsened the high water in Venice, experts say; the rising floor of the lagoon caused by incoming silt, the subsidence of the city by the extraction of methane gas in the sea off Venice, and the worldwide increase in sea levels caused by global warming.

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Many Coastal Wetlands Likely to Disappear this Century

December 1st, 2010

Many coastal wetlands worldwide, including several on the U.S. Atlantic coast, may be more sensitive than previously thought to sea-level rise projections for the 21st century.

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