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Will Sea-Level Rise Erase Land in the Future? by City Tech Blogger Saira Abbasi

Truly, we do live on a ‘water planet.’ For us, water is that critical issue that we need. It’s the most precious substance on the planet, and it links us to pretty much every environmental issue, including climate change, that we’re facing. – Philippe Cousteau Jr.

Imagine one day you awake to find that everything around you is being submerged under water, including yourself;  property damage and the loss of human life can happen within moments during a flood.  The same will happen in the future especially in coastal areas due to rising sea levels.  Rising seas, an impact of climate change, affect coastal areas with increased storm surges and tidal flooding during extreme weather events.

According to National Geographic, “Average sea levels have swelled over 8 inches (about 23 cm) since 1880, with about three of those inches gained in the last 25 years. Every year, the sea rises another .13 inches (3.2 mm).” The report proposes that if the sea – level rise increases with the same velocity both coastal and inland areas will be imperiled.  Many factors trigger the rise in sea levels, but the most common causes are thermal expansion, melting glaciers, and the loss of Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets.

Humans also play a crucial role in the global rise of sea  levels by emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere which warm the temperature  resulting in  glacier melts. Every summer glacier mountains melt quicker than before around the globe.   Rising sea levels also threaten the infrastructure necessary for local jobs and regional industries. Roads, bridges, subways, water supplies, oil and gas wells, power plants, sewage treatment plants, and landfills—the list is practically endless—are all at risk due to sea level rise. Moreover, even a small change in sea rise level can have negative effects on coastal habitats.

Rising sea levels affect many people from low-lying coastal areas, who are forced to relocate to higher ground to escape the risks  of flooding.  Higher coastal water levels threaten other provisions as well, such as Internet access, and hinder the dire need of assistance during extreme weather conditions.

It’s important to realize that if  the ice that exists on Earth  melts, sea levels would rise by 216 feet. The impact would cause many US states and  countries such as Vietnam, Bangkok, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Bangladesh among others, to disappear under water.

Map of Vietnam

Old Projection 2050                                New projection for 2050

 

According to the New York Times article, “Rising Seas Will Erase More Cities by 2050, New Research Shows,” more than 20 million people in Vietnam, almost one-quarter of the population, live on land that will be inundated by sea level rise. As support, the article utilizes research produced by Scott A. Kulp of Climate Central. Kulp states, “Standard elevation measurements using satellites struggle to differentiate the true ground level from the tops of trees or buildings.” As a course of action, the article relays, that “…he[Kulp} and Benjamin Strauss, Climate Central’s chief executive, used artificial intelligence to determine the error rate and correct … it.”

Climate change is affecting our planet is so many ways. Sometimes the impacts are reflected in extreme weather conditions such as  hurricanes,  heat waves, and flooding. As relayed by the New York Times, it also puts pressure on cities in multiple ways: for instance, in Shanghai, one of Asia’s most important economic engines, water threatens to consume the heart of the city and many other cities around it.

 

 

References:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/sea-level-rise/#close

https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-global-sea-level

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/29/climate/coastal-cities-underwater.html

 

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