Welcome to sealevelrise.com; a site trying to make sense of how fast the ocean levels will rise because of climate change, and what the world can do about it.
In the worst case this century, rising seas could force tens of millions of people from their homes in low-lying regions from Bangladesh to Egypt, from Sydney to Miami, and swamp island nations such as Tuvalu or the Maldives. In the best case, the rise will manageable, in most areas.
This site will try to figure out the scientific projections and connect coastal communities with planners, engineers and architects — anyone who’s interested.
Sea levels rose 17 cms (7 inches) in the 20th century, according to the U.N. panel of climate scientists, and have recently increased to about 3 mm a year — a rate of 30 cms over a century. The panel projects a rise of 18 to 59 cms this century, before taking account of a possible acceleration of the melt of ice sheets in Greenland or Antarctica. By one estimate by the panel, that could add up to 20 cms.
But the uncertainties about Antarctica and Greenland are enormous. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that ocean levels could rise by 2 metres at the worst by 2100. And sea level rise won’t just magically stop at 2100; it will keep going.
The picture above shows the shattered Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica in 2009 — the breakup of ice on the ocean around the frozen continent could be removing a buffer that means that glaciers behind will flow more quickly into the sea, meaning ever more water added to the oceans.
So how can you plan for something that might just be a few cms or a massive 2 metres? In the worst case, how many people will have to move inland, or even abandon their homes on coral islands? Will rich nations be building dikes like the Dutch? Or barriers such as across the Thames or in the Venice Lagoon? How much will all that cost?
This site will try to show how. Please get in touch.