What is Sea Level Rise?

Excerpt from video by Matthew Toro simulating sea level rise in Miami and Miami Beach

As the Earth warms up, the oceans warm up too—very slowly but significantly. Water expands as it warms. As the oceans are heated, the water they contain takes up more volume, causing the level of the seas to rise. The seas also rise when ice sheets and land based glaciers melt due to warmer temperatures, feeding more water into the oceans. As of early 2017, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects sea levels will rise another one to eight feet by 2100.

Sea-level rise is one of the major impacts of global warming. Entire low lying countries like Bangladesh, or low-lying islands are also vulnerable to sea level rise. Sea level rise means the ocean will gradually inundate low-lying areas and storms like hurricanes, bolstered by even higher seas, will extend their reach inland.

Since the industrial revolution, global sea levels have already risen by about 8 inches, in some regions, due to a series of local factors the rise is even higher. Scientists agree that sea level will continue to rise. What that means for a particular area depends largely on local factors. Since over half of the world’s people live in regions vulnerable to sea level rise, preparing for this global change is something we all can do simultaneously.