Sea Level to Increase by One to Two Meters this Century

B. McPherson

Some of the latest information coming from NOAA and the US Environmental Protection Agency is warning of an increase in sea levels of at least one meter(39.37inches) and possibly two meters during this century. Much depends on the speed at which the Greenland ice melts.

Since the 1880s the average sea level has increased about 8 inches. For land that is low bank sea level erosion and occasional high tide surges can inundate land far inland. The Maldive Islands are already preparing for the day that they will have to evacuate some of their island nation. Tuvalu in the South Pacific already experiences “king tides” which roll across their island.

Some nations are preparing for the change in water levels. Planning is going on in many European countries for the construction of water gates to restrict the flow of sea water up rivers.

In North America few preparations seem to be happening, yet millions of people will be affected by the changes. The Christian ScienceMonitor states that in the US 3.7 million people currently live at or below
one meter above sea level. Low bank ocean front is among the most expensive and desirable land to build on and much of it is slated for development. For instance a quick perusal of real estate offerings for beach front property on South Padre Island Texas turns up sand dune lots for sale ranging from US $ 40 000 to over 1 million.

Much of the south east of the US is vulnerable to hurricane damage and tidal surges from storms. Hurricane Ike 2008 showed the world the damage that one storm could do to people’s structures. While the destruction of people’s property is unfortunate, it is the destruction of shoreline vegetation zones by humans that magnifies the ocean’s damage.

Buffers zones of mangrove trees modify and reduce the storm surges and high tides that buffet the land, protecting it from erosion. Mangrove trees are routinely ripped out of coastal areas when resorts and subdivisions are built so that the people have easy access to beaches.

For those who have been dreaming of retiring in a cottage on the beach, the reality may be changing quite drastically over the coming years.

From the CSMonitor:
“The risks are imminent and serious,” said Ben Strauss, a scientist with Climate Central and the lead author of one of two related papers appearing in the journal Environmental Research Letters, in a prepared statement.
Researchers from the University of Arizona and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also participated in the studies. Climate Central is a nonprofit climate-science and policy center based in Princeton, N.J.

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