Sea Level Rise

Sea level rise is an increase in the height of the ocean surface relative to land. Several factors can affect the height of the ocean surface: the amount of water in the ocean basins in the form of liquid water and ice; the temperature, and therefore the density and volume, of ocean water; and tectonic factors that affect the shape of ocean basins.

Other factors affect sea levels locally over short time scales, such as tides, storms, floods, and tsunamis. What is of most concern today is sea level rise driven by climate change, which affects both the amount and density of ocean water.

As air and water temperatures rise around the world, scientists are seeing more ice and meltwater moving from land-based sources on Antarctica and Greenland into the ocean. This adds to or displaces water in the ocean, raising the level of the entire ocean. In addition, as water temperatures rise, seawater expands.

These two factors have combined to produce a rise in sea level of 2 millimeters per year over the past century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that sea level may continue to rise as much as two feet over the next century.

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From Oceanus Magazine

Marshes, Mosquitoes, and Sea Level Rise

In the 1930s, the Cape Cod Mosquito Control Project dug approximately 1,500 miles of ditches across marshes on the Cape to drain their water and reduce the number of ponds where mosquitoes can breed. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution biogeochemist Amanda Spivak is studying how this and other management decisions have changed the ability of coastal marshes to store carbon and protect against sea level rise.

Blue Holes and Hurricanes

Scientists are digging into clues that settle into sinkholes in the seafloor to learn about hurricane patterns in the past and in the future.

More Floods & Higher Sea Levels

A research team predicts potentially big changes within the next century that would have significant impacts on those who live on or near the coast.

Scientists Find Trigger That Cracks Lakes

Graduate student Laura Stevens became a focal point of a research team that cracked a big mystery atop the Greenland Ice Sheet.

The Jetyak

Oceanographers are always looking for cost-effective vehicles to help them explore risky regions. Scientists at WHOI have developed one: a robotic platform called the Jetyak.


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