Sea level rise is an underestimated subject for many people yet. But the dangers caused by this event are growing at an alarming rate and putting the planet at risk. So it is essential that this topic is discussed further.
First, what is this so-called sea level rise event?
Before understanding the reasons behind this very dangerous event, it is necessary to talk about what it is. So, generally speaking, it is characterized by the expansion of the oceans. In view of this, it is worth taking a look back into the history of the world.
Many people do not know, but the first pictures of the Earth were taken in 1968. It was at this time that researchers realized that the blue patch covering the Earth was enormous.
Today, everyone knows that the oceans make up about 70% of the entire surface of the planet. However, another event has emerged with great force in recent years, bringing a surprise.
A new view on the world
The famous global warming has changed and is changing the Earth’s temperature greatly. In this way it has started to impact the melting of the poles. Therefore, this phenomenon together with human action is causing the sea level to rise.
Since 1993, the seas and oceans have gained 7 cm more than they already had. Now, if you look at this number you might think that this is not worth much. However, when you analyze the entire volume of water on the planet, this idea starts to change course.
Logical analysis changes everything
What once seemed almost unimportant is now capable of changing all life on planet Earth. So, in the next topics you will understand more about it and see its importance.
What causes sea level rising?
When talking about the causes that lead to this problem, it is not possible to list only one main reason. Therefore, it is very important to analyze well each aspect that directly contributes to this event.
- Warming of the oceans;
- Poles melting;
- Melting glaciers.
- Human action.
In 2018 the scientific research journal PNAS published a very interesting article. So, according to it, 50% of the sea level rise in the last 25 years is due to the process of thermal expansion of water.
Today it is known that the melting of the polar ice caps has put countless tons of fresh water into the seas. Thus the level of the oceans has risen by more than 1.2 mm a year.
The melting has resulted in more than 9 billion tons of glacial ice since 1961. Thus, the volume of the seas has increased by about 2.7 cm in this period alone.
It is impossible to talk about this topic without mentioning the impact of human actions. So, even though this is a phenomenon of nature, human beings contribute directly to making this event worse.
What is ice caps melting and how does it contribute to this event?
When talking about what causes sea level rise, melting ice is a term that comes up a lot in the discussions. So today it is already known that this is a direct consequence of the hole in the ozone layer and of global warming.
This is because these events have raised the temperature of the planet at an absurd speed. This makes thawing even more common, which sets up a cycle where every step of the way has an impact on life on Earth.
Some extra factors are also involved, such as:
- Chemical particles;
- UV rays.
Everything is connected somehow
Another important point is with regard to the ozone layer. After all, the chemicals that are causing its destruction also increase UV rays. Therefore, the temperature goes up even more.
A curious fact that also impacts this process
The seas are capable of absorbing about 90% of all the heat on Earth. Thus, there is another important factor that contributes to the melting of the poles, and if the ice melts, the oceans receive more water.
Is this already a worldwide reality?
Contrary to what many people think, rising sea levels are not fiction. As such, this event is already a reality all over the world. Moreover, it is expected to continue happening in the coming years.
Ocean levels have been observed since 1900, so it is possible to make this analysis more logical. Now, it is important to note that these variations have not only been happening for a short time.
In fact, it is also known that 2,000 years ago this event was present on the planet. However, the speed at which the volume increased was much slower. This is when compared to the present day.
THIS has increased even more in the last 25 years. This is why many scientists are concerned about this issue and are looking for ways to mitigate it.
What does the rise in sea level look like if the Earth warms up even more?
Many professionals have already made an analysis of what would happen if the Earth’s temperature were to increase by 2ºC. So, in this scenario, we have two very likely situations.
- If the climate reaches this state, the sea level will rise;
- Even if the climate does not exceed 2ºC, this increase of the oceans will remain.
Now you are probably wondering why this is so. So the reality is that there is a kind of response time of the seas and the glaciers. Therefore, this time delay will cause the sea level rise to continue for years after this limit.
A bit of planetary history
More than 100,000 years ago, the Earth’s temperature was 2°C warmer than it is now. In addition, the level of the oceans was 5 meters higher than it is today.
Not everything has changed
Even so, today almost 500 million people live in places with an altitude of less than 5 meters. So it is possible to better understand how this response time works.
Is there a prediction of what might happen?
Scientists have already done some studies considering the year 2100. Thus, if the temperature increases by 2°C by the end of the century, the sea would rise by at least half a meter. However, there is another scenario.
A more positive reality
If people manage to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, the ocean would still rise. But, this would be a slower process due to the response time and would perhaps result in 40 cm of rise alone.
More worrisome reality
Now, if this happens in reverse and emissions increase, then by 2100 the sea level rise could reach up to 80 cm. Furthermore, one of the great doubts today is about how warm the Earth has to get to melt the Greenland ice.
This is because it has so much water in it that it could increase the ocean by 7 meters. So, although this is difficult to measure, researchers believe that a rise of between 1 and 4 º C would be enough to cause this event.
An even more dangerous context
If this happens, the current projections would cease to be valid, because the scenario would be even more worrying. However, this melting process would take at least millions of years to materialize.
What impact will rising sea levels have on Pacific islands?
Some people believe that as the oceans rise, these islands will disappear. However, this is not going to happen, at least not in the short term or by the end of this century.
In any case, the impact will be great and many regions will undergo changes in their geography. All this due to several aspects, such as:
● Erosion of beaches;
● Structural challenges with respect to saltwater intrusion into the drinking system;
The Marshall Islands
This region of the country is 90% below 5 meters in elevation. Thus, if sea level rise is too great, this place could even disappear from the map. However, this is not the only problem.
The entire community living in coastal regions are at serious risk of:
● Frequent flooding;
Risks that need to be countered
What is known today is that many cities are located in such places. It is therefore essential to create measures to combat these processes at all costs and to protect these people.
Is Bangladesh at risk from this climate situation?
This is one place where the danger of rising oceans is even greater. After all, the region could suffer flooding on all sides. This is a consequence of the climate change that is taking place.
One problem that generates another
It is a fact that this problem also impacts on the reduction of the coastal population that is in low-lying places. In addition, this country has two major rivers that will face rising waters. All this due to the melting Himalayan glaciers.
A lot of people at risk
The country is considered to be the 8th most populous in the world. So, there are more than 150 million people living at risk. After all, most of them live in areas where the rivers would flood if the oceans were to rise further.
Is the impact of this expansion in other places also severe?
One of the most interesting studies on the subject is the one done by the World Bank. In this way, it evaluated cities and created coastal flood risk categories. So, at the end of the research, of the 10 places cited, 5 are in the United States.
● New York City;
● New Orleans;
This is a result of climate change caused by a series of natural and human actions. In any case, the concern over these regions is great. In addition, the country believes that by 2100 the sea level rise in New York will be one meter.
If this happens, a population of 100,000 people would be submerged in this city. Finally, the damage to the region’s structure would exceed US$ 16 billion.
How does Brazil face this risk of rising sea levels?
The whole world will be affected by the consequences of this phenomenon, and Brazil is not left out. In this way, several spaces in the country will suffer with the rise of the oceans, some more than others.
● Casa Amarela in Recife;
● Botafogo metro station in Rio de Janeiro;
● Mucuripe lighthouse in Fortaleza;
● Elevador Lacerda elevator in Salvador.
More than one possibility
An interesting fact is that the Earth’s temperature in the coming years could rise between 1.5 and 3º C. So, in the first case, this number would only be possible if greenhouse gas emissions were lower.
This means that even the best case scenario would still bring very severe impacts. However, with 3ºC more, the situation would be much worse and Brazil would face even more complex problems.
Does the rise in sea level cause people displacement?
Thinking of an increase of only 2ºC, millions of people would be affected by events such as floods. Furthermore, places like China, India and Indonesia would suffer even more.
Another worrying aspect is that many of the most affected regions do not have many resources to combat the risks. After all, when it comes to stopping a coastal flood, the costs are very high.
In a more straightforward way, several populations would be forced to leave their homes and seek shelter. So rising sea levels do need to be fought at all costs.
What about marine life if the sea expands?
This is another aspect that is very much affected by this whole phenomenon. Thus, scientists say that corals are going through a bleaching process at a much faster rate.
This is because the coral lives in a symbiotic relationship with the algae. So when there is a rise in temperature, the algae is driven out and the coral dies. In addition, the ocean is becoming more and more acidic.
The impact of this on marine life is the malformation of animals such as crustaceans. Mangroves are also affected. They are even of enormous importance in protecting communities from storms. Carbon uptake is also reduced as a result.
What are the other environmental consequences?
Apart from the risks mentioned, the rise in sea level in the water table will be very damaging. After all, it will push out all the fresh water, generating a saltier soil. Thus, plantations such as mangroves and restingas are impacted.
Another environmental damage is that this process can cause the migration of wild animals. The entire marine biome is also at risk. So, it is possible to see how one event is capable of messing with various elements.
Are there economic consequences due to the sea level rise?
Without a doubt one of the branches most affected by this rise in the oceans is the economic one. Thus, in 2019 95% of the foreign trade flow was represented by the ports. Therefore, this was around 14.2% of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
With the whole process of expanding seas, the impact of that on the economy is huge. So what can happen is that some of these ports will be flooded, which would no longer be a trading point.
Are there any projects to contain this danger?
In fact, today we are already thinking about solutions for the rising sea level. Therefore, a project created by students from UVA, Veiga de Almeida University has this characteristic. So, the researchers designed a kind of dam.
With 9.5 km of extension, it has 11 meters of height in all. Moreover, the intention is that it would be implanted in the Rio-Niterói Bridge. This would help to contain flooding in various spaces such as:
- Tom Jobim-Riogaleão International Airport;
- Duque de Caxias;
- São Gonçalo;
This project was created thinking about the most critical situation related to climate change. Thus, despite the existence of these studies, it is necessary that countless others be done. This is the only way to have a chance against this phenomenon.
What can each individual do to contain the rise in sea level?
To the surprise of many people, there are indeed measures that each individual can take to raise sea levels, albeit indirectly. So, these are actions that break the cycle of climate change and can make the scenarios more favorable for the world.
1- Decrease waste generation to contain sea level rise
The best way to do this is through selective collection. Thus, the individual takes care of the environment by putting into practice a more sustainable habit. Moreover, inside the home there are other actions that can be taken in this direction.
Buying durable and resistant products is always an option. Also, if you have something like that in your house, try to fix it instead of buying another one right away. Also, with regard to packaging, always look for those that are reusable.
Even a hint to know which packages are like this, they are usually produced by companies that have the environmental seal. Finally, reducing waste is one of the most efficient ways to take care of the planet.
2- Save water and energy and combat rising sea levels
On a daily basis it is very difficult to associate certain practices with the preservation of the planet. So, an example of this is the excessive use of water and electricity. If I say that this causes the sea level to rise, many people will not understand why.
One action leads to another
Now, the truth is that the more water and energy are used, the more natural resources are extracted. Then the way this is done impacts the earth’s temperature and finally one of the consequences is the expansion of the oceans.
To save in this sense, you can create several more interesting habits such as:
● Using rainwater to wash the house’s yard;
● Do laundry only when necessary;
● Do not leave faucets open;
● Choosing fluorescent light bulbs.
Each of these tips has a positive impact on the environment and the seas in general. So even though it may seem difficult at first, applying these habits is a necessity today.
3- Be careful with the emission of toxic gases
Vehicles emit a lot of greenhouse gases. So, whenever you can, change the car or the motorcycle for a bicycle. Or even, try to walk more if you prefer.
Today, most people own a car and drive it to work every day. So if one vehicle is bad for the ozone layer, imagine thousands of them spread all over the world. All of this affects the rise in sea level, albeit indirectly.
4- Don’t waste food and fight rising sea levels
Food decomposition is also responsible for releasing greenhouse gases. Including one of them is methane, an element even more powerful than the famous carbon dioxide gas (CO2).
A tip to put this into practice is to always plan your purchases. In addition, it is worth paying attention to the quantities of food and freezing them when necessary. It is also possible to use vegetable stalks and peelings in various recipes.
All of these actions help to reduce food waste and also protect against gas emissions. The best thing about it is that it is no trouble at all to handle food in this way.
The planet and its natural resources work logically?
With all these tips it is possible to get a sense of how everything works as a cycle. So even the uncontrolled use of energy, for example, impacts the rise in sea levels.
When talking about the environment and global warming it is important to understand that every detail matters. So a person who puts these guidelines into practice is making a difference in the world.
Of course, the more people who join together to combat the advance of this phenomenon, the more effective this is. Finally, the expansion of the oceans is one of the consequences of the Earth’s warming and the greenhouse effect.
Fight these risks and protect quality of life on the planet
Now you know everything behind the rising levels of the seas and oceans. Furthermore, you have seen how damaging it is to the planet and what consequences humans will face in the coming years.
In light of all this, it is very worthwhile to start thinking about how people need to take more care of where they live. After all, the planet can survive without humans, but not the other way around.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes the sea level rise?
Rising temperatures are the cause of rising sea levels. After all, the warmer it gets, the faster the glaciers melt, which makes more water available.
How much has the sea level risen already?
Over 500 years the sea level has already risen by 18 meters. So this data comes from a study by researchers at Durham University in England.
What does global warming have to do with rising sea levels?
This is one of the consequences of global warming. So the glaciers melt as the temperature rises, which causes the sea level to rise.