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

Arctic’s Icy Coastlines Retreat as Planet Warms

The coastline in Arctic regions reacts to climate change with increased erosion and retreats by half a metre per year on average. Less sea ice means more open water, which means stronger waves generated by wind. These, in combination with warming temperatures and more storms, mean more erosion of coastlines. Rising sea levels are also expected to enhance erosion.

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Ozone Layer Faces Record 40 Percent Loss Over Arctic

Observations from satellites and ground stations suggest that atmospheric ozone levels for March in the Arctic were approaching the lowest levels in the modern instrumental era. The thinning ozone shifts away from the pole and covers Greenland and Scandinavia. Mostly the concern, for the Arctic ozone depletion, is for people that live in northern regions, more towards Iceland, northern Norway, the northern coast of Russia.

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Sand Drift in Norway Caused by Sea-Level Changes and Human Activity

The sand along the south-western coastal rim of Norway has drifted for more than 9000 calendar years. This was triggered by sea-level changes and human activities, new research has found.

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Earth’s Gravity Revealed in Unprecedented Detail

After just two years in orbit, ESA’s GOCE satellite, a European spacecraft that skims the upper reaches of the atmosphere, has gathered enough data to map Earth’s gravity with unrivalled precision, from deep ocean trenches to majestic mountain ranges. The data will be crucial for understanding sea level changes, shifts in ice flows and how ocean currents, which are driven by gravity, respond as the planet warms over the next few decades.

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Oceans May Be Speeding Melt of Greenland’s Glaciers

Researchers know that warm air over Greenland melts surface snow and ice, but this process doesn’t do enough melting to explain the extent of the glaciers’ rapid retreat, responsible for about a quarter of worldwide sea level rise. The connection between ocean changes, including a warming Atlantic Ocean, and glacier response is unchartered territory, and may make up the difference between predictions of ice melt and reality.

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Melting ice sheets becoming largest contributor to sea level rise


The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass at an accelerating pace, becoming the dominant contributor to global sea level rise, and much sooner than model forecasts have predicted.

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California Islands Give Up Evidence of Early Seafaring

The sea-going people may have followed a “kelp highway” stretching from Japan to Kamchatka, along the south coast of Beringia and Alaska, then southward down the Northwest Coast to California. Rising seas have since flooded the shorelines and coastal lowlands where early populations would have spent most of their time.

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EU Pledges 90m Euros in Climate Funds for Sinking Pacific Island States

Building on the Cancun Climate Change Conference, the High Level conference on Climate Change in the Pacific will be hosted by Vanuatu on 4 March and is organised by the European Commission. Sinking Pacific island states on the frontline of climate change, are to receive funding for climate-related projects.

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King Tide: The Sinking of Tuvalu

The fragile strips of green that make up the small islands of Tuvalu are incredibly beautiful but also incredibly vulnerable.
The group of nine tiny islands in the South Pacific only just break the surface of the ocean, but for how much longer?

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Recent / Sea Level Rise

How High Will Seas Rise? Get Ready for Seven Feet

May 25th, 2010

As governments, businesses, and homeowners plan for the future, they should assume that the world’s oceans will rise by at least two meters, roughly seven feet, this century. But far too few agencies or individuals are preparing for the inevitable increase in sea level that will take place as polar ice sheets melt.

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La Faute-sur-Mer and l’Aiguillon-sur-Mer beaches, Vendée, France; By Claire Le Guern


April 1st, 2010

The main attractions of the coastal towns besides the beaches are the Nature Reserve, and the off shore mussel farms. Not anymore.

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Disputed isle in Bay of Bengal

disappearing island

March 24th, 2010

For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal.

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Erosion and Sea Level Rise on North Topsail Beach

Erosion and Sea Level Rise on North Topsail Beach, North Carolina

March 15th, 2010

Orrin H. Pilkey and area locals offer their perspective on North Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

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California panel urges immediate action to protect from rising sea levels

March 12th, 2009

As California officials see it, global warming is happening so there’s no time to waste in figuring out what to do.

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Rising Seas to Destroy U.S. Beaches

Rising Seas

June 27th, 2007

You may have to kiss that summer trip to the beach goodbye later this century, thanks to rising sea levels and more intense tropical storms, scientists predict.

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Flocking to the Coast: World’s Population Migrating into Danger

July 21st, 2006

New maps developed by investigating the relationship between human population and natural resources shows where people will most likely settle through 2025.

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