Global Sea Level Rise


The Average Sea Level is expected to rise at least a foot, and worst-case scenario up to EIGHT feet! It won’t stop there! Sea level has risen 8-9 inches since 1880 and the rate is only accelerating.

Sea Level Rise is primarily driven by two factors related to climate change. The first factor is “thermal expansion” – as ocean temperatures rise, the water expands. The second factor is melting of land ice (ice sheets and glaciers), which adds water to the world’s oceans. Rate of global sea level rise is increasing.

Global sea level has risen by about 8 inches since scientific record keeping began in 1880. The rate of global sea level rise has increased in recent decades. The current rate is a little more than an inch per decade.

Rising global sea level is a critical consequence of climate change. As ocean waters warm, they expand. Also, as air temperatures warm, water from melting ice sheets, polar ice caps, and glaciers enters into our ocean basins.

Global average sea level has risen by about 8 inches (about 21 cm) since 1900, with about 3 of those inches (about 7.5 cm) occurring since 1993. Human-caused climate change has made a substantial contribution to sea level rise since 1900, contributing to a rate of rise greater than during any preceding century in at least 2,800 years.

 In addition to the global average sea level rise, local sea level rise – sometimes called “relative sea level rise” – happens at different rates in different places. Local sea level rise is affected by the global sea level rise, but also by local land motions, and the effects of tides, currents, and winds. Many places along the United States coast have seen their local sea levels rise faster than the average global rate. As sea levels have risen, the number of tidal floods each year that cause minor impacts, often called “nuisance floods,” have increased 5- to 10-fold since the 1960s in several U.S. coastal cities (very high confidence). Rates of increase are accelerating in over 25 Atlantic and Gulf Coast cities (very high confidence).


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