Data from more than a century ago shows that ocean levels have been rising faster on East Coast and Gulf regions

Warmer temperatures cause water to expand, and ice to melt--both raising ocean levels. Ice melt accounts for more than half of increases between 1972 and 2008.

The rate of sea level rise is increasing. How high the water goes will depend the level of emissions and the unpredictable reactions of oceans and ice.

Future sea levels are a choice, relating to our emissions of heat-trapping gases. But we’ll also have to make changes to vulnerable coastlines, building natural buffers, and managing retreat from prone areas.

2014-11-13

The Deadly Rise Of Sea Levels, In One Simple Infographic

Climate change is making the oceans rise, creating more and more dangerous situations for our coastal cities. See just how much and what we can do to stop it.

If you’re skeptical about man-made climate change, the Union of Concerned Scientists wants you to know something: there’s no basis for your belief in science. The long-standing group, which counts more than 200,000 citizens and professionals as members, is as categorical as it can be. Global warming is happening, and our emissions are largely responsible. (It is also quite clear about where "misinformation" on the topic comes from.) In this infographic, it lays out how global warming leads to sea level rise, which U.S. cities are likely to be affected, and what we can do about it.

Data from more than a century ago shows that ocean levels have been rising faster on East Coast and Gulf regions, with cities like Galveston, Texas, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, most affected. Variances come from local land subsidence (which allows water to penetrate further inland) and "changes in the path and strength of ocean currents."

Warmer temperatures cause water to expand, and ice to melt—both raising ocean levels. Ice melt accounts for more than half of increases between 1972 and 2008.

The rate of sea level rise is increasing. How high the water goes will depend on the level of emissions and the unpredictable reactions of oceans and ice.

Future sea levels are a choice, relating to our emissions of heat-trapping gases. But we’ll also have to make changes to vulnerable coastlines, building natural buffers, and managing retreat from prone areas.

For more, read the UCS’s short report here, or check out the full infographic here.

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2 Comments

  • Jon Jermey

    Forty-six inches, max, in 130 years. A brick is about 4 inches high, so if we lay one row of bricks along the shoreline every ten years, we can hold back the apocalypse -- assuming it's happening at all. Do you think we can manage that more cheaply than spending billions on 'carbon mitigation'?

  • Whittet

    The observed rise taken linearly is doubling every decade; 1 mm a year or 10 mm between 1990 and 2000; 2 mm a year or 20 mm between 2000 and 2010; 4mm a year or 40 mm between 2010 and 2020; an aggregate of 70 mm in 30 years

    Unfortunately sea level rise is not linear; its accelerating as temperature rises; 1 mm a year in 1990; 1 mm a year in 1995; 2mm a year in 2000, 3mm a year in 2005, 8mm a year in 2010, 13 mm a year projected for 2015; 21 mm a year projected for 2020; 245mm aggregate in 30 years.

    Temperature and CO2 in ppm have already accelerated beyond the worst case analysis of the IPCC for 2100. We are at the point where the tipping points have tipped

    According to the 2010 IPCC interim report of Group 1 studying sea level rise the projected sea level rise over the next 47 years to 2060 (instead of 2100 or your projected 130 year till 2043) is expected to already be in excess of 2m or 78".

    The East Coast sea level rise is going to be among the highest on the planet. East Coast architects advising state and federal authorities don't expect to be able to deal with that with sea walls or levees so they are planning on having to move 100 East Coast cities with populations over 100,000 back to the Appalachians over the next 25-30 years at a projected cost similar to what was spent on Katrina or Hurricane Sandy of 150 Billion dollars per year per city,