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

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A Retreat In The Face Of a Rising Sea, California

Higher ocean levels force California officials to move facilities inland – a managed retreat – an action that is expected to recur along the coast as the ocean rises over the next century, and as coastal communities have to come to grips with worsening coastal erosion.

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Sea Level Rise And The World’s Beaches, by Orrin H. Pilkey

Of all the various anticipated impacts of global climate change, sea level rise will likely be the first to produce a human catastrophe on a global scale. If our beaches are to survive for our grandchildren’s enjoyment, the time has come to plan the big withdrawal.

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Bangladesh Sand to Help Keep the Maldives Afloat

After looking to buy land in other countries, Maldives, one of the lowest countries on the planet, with an average land level of 1.5 metres above sea level, is making a last-ditch effort to avoid its citizens becoming climate refugees. It is importing sand.

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Australia’s Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles is the name given to a collection of natural limestone stacks that rise up to 150ft (46m) from the sea and were formed by erosion of the original coastline, which began 10 to 20 million years ago.The coast is dynamic and as erosion is ongoing, some more stacks are collapsing while other “Apostles” are likely to form from further erosion of other rocky headlands that line the Victorian coastline.


King Tides Seen as a Model for Rising Seas

The King Tide Photo Initiative 2010, launched by the British Columbia’s Ministry of Environment in Canada, asks individuals to record the possible impacts of sea level rise by photographing high water level events in B.C.’s coastal areas, to help build a photo library and to offer us a chance to visualize what normal sea levels may look like in the future.

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

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

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

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

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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