Sea Level Rise: Impact of 6 meter (red)

Sea Level Rise: Impact of 6 meter (red) thumbnail


There are many questions surrounding climate change. One big question is how the changing climate will affect the oceans. The sea level has been steadily rising since 1900 at a rate of 1 to 2.5 millimeters per year. In fact, since 1992 new methods of satellite altimetry using the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite indicate a rate of rise of 3 millimeters per year. The Fourth Assessment Report from the IPCC states that "there is strong evidence that global sea level gradually rose in the 20th century and is currently rising at an increased rate, after a period of little change between AD 0 and AD 1900. Sea level is projected to rise at an even greater rate in this century. " - Fourth Assessment Report on Sea Level Rise Sea level can rise by two different mechanisms with respect to climate change. The first is the expansion of the sea water as the oceans warm due to an increasing global temperature. The second mechanism is the melting of ice over land, which then adds water to the ocean. The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report predicts that total global-average sea level rise from 1990 - 2100 will be 7 - 15 inches for low emission scenarios and 10 - 23 inches for high emission scenarios.

This Science On a Sphere datasets demonstrates rising sea levels and shows the changes in the Earth's appearance. This dataset shows the sea level rising meter by meter from current sea level up to 6 meters above sea level. The land that would be covered by water is shaded red to show the drastic decrease in land as the waters rise. The same dataset is also available with black shading for land covered by water. Using a high resolution elevation model, researchers were able to determine which areas would be covered by water in 1 m increments of sea level rise. Time is not taken into account in this dataset.

Notable Features

  • Shading in either red or black represents land that would be covered by rising sea levels
  • Much of the eastern United States disappears when levels rise above current level

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