How Much Will Sea Level Rise?

Sea Level Rise

As temperatures surge, sea levels rise with it.

The two major causes:

  • Thermal expansion of the oceans because heat makes water expands.
  • Loss of land based ice and glacier melting

In fact, it’s projected to rise at even greater rate this century. Let’s take a look at some of these global projections.

Sea level rise effects and projections

Since 1850, global mean sea level has been steadily rising. In the chart below, the red line represents sea levels from observed tide gauge data. After the year 2000, sea level rise is projected to spike.

The purple, blue, and orange areas show sea-level rise projections. But it has three levels of increase because of its uncertainty after 2050. These climate models are derived from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007)

sea level change projection

Glacier melt contributes to sea level rise

Earth holds about 326 million trillion gallons (326,000,000,000,000,000,000 gallons) of water. About 6,846,000,000,000,000,000 gallons (2.1%) of Earth’s water is in glaciers.

Glaciers are the second largest reservoir of water with most of them in Greenland and Antarctica. Currently, glaciers store about 24,060,000 cubic kilometers of water.

global water distribution usgs

Glaciers fluctuate in water availability the most with ice ages and global warming. As temperatures surge, sea levels rise with it. This is because melting ice sheets and glaciers add to Earth’s total water volume.

future sea level rise diagram

The future of sea level rise

Scientists estimate sea level will rise 32 to 68 inches by 2100. This rise in sea levels could swallow parts of coastal cities like Shanghai, Olympia and New York.

present vs future sea level

How do we slow down the massive supply of water? First, we reverse deforestation to capture more carbon from the atmosphere. Second, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions to help stabilize temperature. Finally, we all have to consider the environment in our daily lives.

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