A guest post by Jessica Watts
Global sea levels have risen by an estimated amount of between 10 and 20 cm in the last century. Even more worrying are the conclusions recently drawn by the National Geographic from a review of evidence gathered over the last 20 years. It’s suggested that the rate of change over that time is about double the average for the previous 80 years. It seems clear that the rate of change is accelerating.
What causes sea levels to rise?
The immediate causes of the rising levels are related to climate change, and they are believed to be twofold.
- First, increasing surface temperatures have led to large areas of ice melting. Melting icebergs, like ice cubes in a glass of water, do not affect the overall volume of water. It’s the land-based ice which melts and slides into the sea that has a major effect, and it’s speeding up.
- The other way climate change leads directly to rising sea levels is by the expansion of the water’s volume when it is heated. All materials increase in volume when their temperature goes up. Water is the same, and the vast area of the world’s oceans means that the effect is enormous.
The scientific consensus is that climate change and rising sea levels are naturally caused by the sun’s interaction with earth’s atmosphere. The process has been hampered due to pollution, but cleaner air in recent years is allowing the natural cycle to continue.
Nobody has the power to stop this process on their own, but we all bear a responsibility to do what we can. That includes looking at buying our fuel from greener sources, for example opting for an eco-tariff with your electricity supplier. Most electricity suppliers have green tariffs and they can often be used along with promotion codes in newly privatized areas.
What about the future?
It’s estimated that if all carbon emissions were to cease in 2016 (a practical impossibility) sea level would still rise by one meter by the end of the 21st century, because carbon lingers in the atmosphere. The changes we are seeing now are the result of activity years ago. It’s like turning round a tanker: the forward impetus continues long after the wheel has been turned.
So you can do what you can to reduce your own carbon foot-print, and vote for leaders who will act responsibly towards future generations, but a rise in temperatures and sea level is still inevitable. The human race will have to adapt to changing conditions.
The US East coast
Sea shores will be riskier habitats than they are now, with storms and surges being vastly more destructive. The rate at which sea level is rising along the East coast of the USA is four times the average global rate, probably because of the slowing of Atlantic currents.
Even a rise at the average global rate will be enough to transform the Texas coast-line by the end of the century. Galveston is visibly in danger now, and will be mostly under water by the end of the century with the one meter sea level rise which is conservatively predicted.Author Bio:
Jessica Watts is a retired marine biologist and Houston native. An avid blogger, she likes to spread the word on protecting our oceans and planet by blogging online. Visit the Tara Energy in Houston website for more saving ideas.