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Why Rising Sea Levels Are Such an Urgent Threat That We Need to Take Seriously

Many coastal areas worldwide are already threatened by increasing sea levels and coastal flooding. With climatic consequences that can drown neighbourhoods, endanger people’s lives, and wreak economic havoc. This pace of sea-level rise is predicted to accelerate as ice sheets melt and ocean heat content rises in response to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. Like with other climatic changes, local considerations mean that cities will suffer sea level rise at varying rates.

Floods

Act Now against Rising Sea Levels

Modern rates of increasing sea levels began roughly 100 years ago. It is almost guaranteed that the 21st century rise will be quicker than in the previous millennia.

Resilience planning is critical at both the national and international levels. It must take into account the needs of all people, including the most vulnerable, who are projected to bear an unbalanced share of the adverse effects of climate change.

Will Rising Sea Levels Impact You?

While big storms have raised public awareness of climate change and sea-level rise. There is still a need to educate coastal decision-makers and the public about flood hazards, disaster planning, and climate adaptation.

With chronic coastal erosion currently a severe issue in many countries, increasing sea levels will likely cause severe concerns.

Sea level rise threatens roads, subways, bridges, oil and gas fields, water supplies, sewage treatment plants, power plants, landfills, and nearly all human infrastructure.

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Climate change does not impact all parts of the world similarly. Increasing sea levels will not be globally uniform, necessitating highly tailored resilience planning.

Sea level rise will occur because of increased greenhouse gas emissions and resulting global warming. The only question mark is how much and how fast it will rise.

Suppose ‘rising sea levels’ continue at a faster rate than sediment build-up can tolerate. In that case, the marshland will be swamped with too much water.

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Coastal Flooding and Rising Sea Levels

The oldest tide gauges and the sediment preserved beneath swamps and marshes demonstrate that sea level rose approximately 1850. It was precisely around the time people began burning coal to power steam engine trains, and it hasn’t stopped since.

The oceans have slowly risen over history, gnawing away at the land. Still, due to hotter waters caused by climate change, that rise in water levels is expected to continue. It will accelerate the increase well into the next century.

High Tides Are Getting Higher

Coastal cities and towns have always been at the mercy of the waves and tides. Still, as water levels rise, more coastal communities and low-lying islands are being swallowed up by the oceans.

Around 770 million people live near a coastline. They are already affected by coastal flooding caused by storms and high tides, destroying houses, buildings, and other coastal infrastructure and environments.

Many people will be compelled to evacuate their houses near the coasts over the next century as rising tides and more significant flooding make life impossible.

Rising Sea Levels and Climate Change

Furthermore, hurricanes will gain more energy when the waters warm due to climate change, perhaps making them stronger.

Coastal areas face direct inundation and considerably increased hazards from tidal flooding, storm surges, excessive rain, and other climate change effects.

Floods in low-lying coastal areas are already pushing people to relocate to higher land. Millions more are in danger of flooding and other effects of climate change.

What Factors Contribute to Sea-Level Rise?

Sea level rise is triggered by warming waters, land ice melting into the ocean, a decreasing Gulf Stream, and sinking land. Although the sea-level rise is a global occurrence, the amount and rate of rising vary by region, even across the East and West Coasts.

Human expansion in low-lying places, particularly big urban centres, are at risk of becoming unsustainable due to the destruction of valuable coastal ecosystems, the rising expense of coastal defences, and greater vulnerability to climate change.

Droughts will become more frequent because of climate change. Saltwater intrusion will become more common as storm surges and floods dump saltwater onto land, with more freshwater withdrawn from aquifers.

Rising sea levels are one of the most severe consequences of climate change. Rising waters threaten to overwhelm small island nations and coastal regions by the end of the century.

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Start Planning for Higher Tides

Beach houses are frequently built on stilts to guard against surges during severe storms when powerful winds force water past the standard high tide mark.

The rise and fall with the tides of the coastal groundwater table will force it to remain above ground level. Forming new wetlands, altering surface drainage, and causing extensive flooding, particularly when high tide coincides with heavy rains.

Local ‘rising sea levels’, which are reflected in the global sea-level rise. All bring changes in local land elevation, tides, and winds having a devastating impact on coastal towns.

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The response to increasing sea levels is similar. Many municipalities plan to construct barriers to protect houses and cities from rising tides.

With saltwater seeping in with high tides further inland, freshwater wetlands may become more saline, changing plant and mammal ecosystems.

This type of tidal flooding has become more than simply a nuisance, damaging property and requiring people to take alternate routes to school or work during high tides.

Sea Level, Glaciers, and Ice Sheets

Melting ice has contributed roughly two-thirds to the rise in sea level so far, with one-third attributed to land ice in Greenland and Antarctica and one-third attributed to melting ice on mountains.

In the case of Antarctica, the West Antarctic ice sheet is melting because of warm water rising from the Amundsen Sea below.

Ice Sheet Loss in Antarctica

Today, accelerating ice melt in Antarctica and Greenland is probably the start of a new wave of fast sea level rise. The rapid meltdown of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could cause sea levels to rise by more than 3 metres.

Even if emissions are decreased, the sea level will continue to rise for centuries. This is because the vast ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland will continue to melt and take a long time to establish a new equilibrium.

However, it’s become clear that ‘rising sea levels’ are because Greenland is melting considerably quicker, and the West Antarctic is becoming more unstable.

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As part of a natural cycle the temperature warmed, ice evaporated, and glaciers receded, leaving only ice sheets at the poles and mountain peaks.

Melting has exceeded snowfall, with the most significant ice loss occurring on mountain glaciers in the mid-latitudes and tropics and on the Greenland ice sheet.

Many of the world’s alpine glaciers would vanish if current trends continued, with greenhouse gas emissions causing an increase in global temperatures.

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Glaciers Will Melt and Disappear

Melting ice sheets and glaciers is another significant factor in ‘rising sea levels’. Warmer air accelerates the melting of land-based ice, including polar ice caps and glaciers boosting water flow into the oceans.

However, as average global temperatures rise year after year, ice caps and glaciers are melting at an increased rate.

Rising Sea Levels and Warming Oceans

Climate change is likely to hasten the rise in sea level via warming oceans and melting glaciers, affecting coastal development, wetland resources, and recreation.

Sea levels rise because of warming ocean temperatures due to thermal expansion. Water expands in volume as it warms.

Climate Change Accelerates Sea Level Rise

The considerable increase in air and ocean temperature caused by climate change has dramatically increased sea level rise during the last century.

Looking further forward, the rate of sea-level rise will be determined by how effective the world is in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Reduced emissions under agreements would imply that the worst-case climate scenarios would not occur. Still, even with reduced global warming, coastal flooding because of ‘rising sea levels’ would inevitably worsen.

  • Even if global warming ceased today, sea levels would continue to rise.
  • Water also expands naturally as it heats, raising the average sea level.
  • Water levels will rise faster than usual further away from the ice sheet.
  • The sooner we take action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the smaller the risk.
  • During storms, many regions already have flooded roadways and are at risk of erosion.
  • Storm surges and high tides exacerbate an already high-water level caused by rising oceans.
  • A high emission prediction would result in the fastest and most substantial rise in sea level.
  • Rising sea levels significantly enhance the likelihood of devastating floods caused by storm surges.

The fact that nearly 5′ of sea-level rise has already been factored into the planet’s future. Providing even more incentive for the globe to band together to keep that figure from rising even more.

Many ports, metropolitan conglomerations, and agricultural districts are constructed on river deltas. There land subsidence adds to a significant increase in relative sea-level rise.

Rising sea levels are one of the most pressing global dangers. Its effects are already being seen in many low-lying islands and coastal communities.

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Sea Levels Are Climate Change Indicators

Rising sea levels may also exacerbate other adverse effects of climate change, such as increased flood risk and more difficulties for migrating species.

Nonetheless, sea-level rise is a worldwide concern, and systematically tracking the height of the ocean through time is critical for climate policy to minimise greenhouse gas emissions.

Summary

Over time, the oceans have gradually risen, nibbling away at the land. Increased greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting global warming will cause sea-level rise. To prepare for sea-level rise, resilience planning is essential at both the national and international levels. Coastal areas are more vulnerable to tidal flooding, storm surges, heavy rain, and other climate change effects. Millions more are at risk of flooding and other climate change-related consequences.

As storm surges and floods dump saltwater onto land, saltwater intrusion will become increasingly common. Melting ice sheets and glaciers are also significant contributors to ‘rising sea levels’. Even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, sea levels will continue to rise for generations. Warmer air hastens the melting of land-based ice, particularly polar ice caps and glaciers, increasing the flow of water into the oceans. Sea levels rise as water temperatures rise owing to thermal expansion.

The rate of sea-level rise will be determined by the world’s ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Experts warn that even if emissions are decreased, coastal flooding from increasing sea levels would inevitably intensify.

The ‘rising sea levels’ are now twice what would have been seen if greenhouse gas emissions had not increased due to human activity.

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