What is Sea Level Rise?
The rising temperatures are melting the ice and warming up the oceans. Global warming is affecting the sea levels in many ways. Ice is shrinking and melting, adding to the rising water level in the oceans.
Warm water takes up more space than frozen. So as water gets warmer, it expands, little by little, so much so that it results in the rising sea levels by inches. In the past 100 years the average sea level has risen to up to 7 inches. The last ice age was 36,000 years ago when much of the oceans were frozen. But the rise in temperature over the years has resulted in glacier melting, adding to warmer water to the oceans.
6 Causes of Sea Level Rise
- The major cause is the melting of glaciers and it is directly related to global temperature changes as Earth’s temperature continues to rise
- Eustasy- This is the term used for changes in sea level due to changes in the amount of ocean water
- Isostasy- Changes in Earth’s geology. The tectonic plates of the Earth are moving in a slow pace constantly. This changes the structure of the Earth and increases or decreases the height of land above and below sea level.
- Thermal expansion- Warm water expands and then water takes up more space. This increases the ocean water levels.
- Ice loss from Greenland and West Antarctica- These places had massive ice sheets which are now melting. Melting water from above and sea water from below is seeping below the ice sheets of these areas. This is causing the ice to move more quickly into the oceans.
- Adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere is making the temperature rise rapidly and adding to global warming.
5 Effects of Sea Level Rise
- Low lying areas will have more flooding and might even wash out completely
- Rising sea levels will harm important coastal ecosystem like the mangroves and coral reefs. Sea water is saline and will cause destructive erosion and contamination of soils
- Many living organisms cannot survive in saline water. Thus sea level rise will ruin the birds and plants. Not only that, fishes will lose their habitat and die. As the earth gets warmer, plants and animals that live in cold regions will not be able to survive
- When storms hit the land, a higher sea level will cause extremely powerful storms and the water will destroy everything in its way
Low lying islands will be submerged completely
- Scientists predict that warming of earth will continue and is likely to accelerate. By 2100 scientists say that oceans might rise up to 6.5 feet! This is enough to sweep off many small cities along the Unites States.