Rising Sea levels and Consequences-Stephanie Bosworth

We have all seen those movies about the world ending in which the city of Manhattan has been swamped. The clearest image that comes to my mind is the poster for the movie 2012. Although this may never happen in the way it is portrayed in movies it will eventually. It will come slowly and surely if we continue to live in the way that we do.

A poster for the 2012 movie

A poster for the 2012 movie

National geographic makes some stunning conclusions about why and how the sea levels will continue to rise. They contribute the issue to thermal expansion, melting of glaciers, and ice loss from Greenland and West Antarctica. They claim that if sea levels continue to rise it will cause disturbing effects on coastal habitats such erosion, flooding of wetlands, lost habitat for fish, birds, and plants.

It will also strip away land making people more vulnerable to flooding causing the relocation of millions of people.  They claim that oceans will rise between 2.5 and 6.5 feet by 2100. This will clear out many of the cities along the U.S. East Coast. Living only 45 minutes away from Manhattan during hurricane Sandy I saw the massive effects of what happens when sea levels rise. Professor Salerno was not lying when she said that hurricane Sandy was horrible for Manhattan.  They also claim that it may even rise by 23 feet.


What Manhattan would look like under water

Rising sea levels have always been an issue in the past. Throughout history sea levels have fallen naturally due to the fact that there has always been relative change in the volume of water in the sea due to thermal expansion.  Thermal expansion happens when certain areas of water become trapped as ice and as the air warms up the ice then melts into the ocean. This can also be attributed to the melting of large glaciers as national geographic mentioned before. We can see the impact of melting glaciers because the polar bear is slowly starting to become extinct. Thermal expansion then causes loss of habitat to many animals.

Also the movement of tectonic plates has caused issues with rising sea levels. As tectonic plates move the ocean’s surface becomes bigger in some areas and smaller in others. The oceans then rise and fall causing flooding (the lost sea of Atlantis anyone) and exposing land. Even 20,000 years ago, sea level was 400 feet below what it is today and it continues to rise. This can be contributed to the fact that some fish die in certain areas because they do not have enough water that they would typically have elsewhere.

Ironically there are also some effects of rising sea levels that don’t necessarily have to do with losing land or different populations. Here are some to name a few.

  1. Our drinking water will be contaminated. As sea levels rise the sea water will come into contact with clean drinking water. As we all know we cannot drink salt water. It is possible to purify the water but it is costly and time consuming.
  2. Farming would be affected. That same water that we drink we also use for irrigation. So again it would be a problem to use salt water to water crops and other things because they would probably die. In addition most farmers could probably not afford to purify their water source.
  3. Tourism would be affected. Since many people like to go on vacation to the beach rising sea levels may sweep the water over the beach. This would destroy not only the beach but potentially the houses and properties along with it. Imagine the Cape for example being completely underwater. This would also hurt the economies of towns and villages where most of their income and revenue depend on beachfront properties or people themselves coming to the beach

    sandy-pier-rollerc_2384216k (1)

    The Jersey Shore after hurricane Sandy

All in all these are some pretty devastating effects that rising sea levels will bring to the U.S. These also could be used in a global context to in the sense that all of these things can happen anywhere. It is not prone to one location. One can agree however, that unless there is something done about rising sea levels or we will have dire consequences.

Other impacts of rising sea levels


Sources of rising sea levels


History of rising sea levels




7 thoughts on “Rising Sea levels and Consequences-Stephanie Bosworth

  1. earthhist Post author

    Very informative post! I liked how you covered the many effects of sea level rise, including land loss for people, habitat loss for plants and animals, and impacts on farming land and drinking water. You did a good job explaining the various reasons for the rise, and also talked about sea levels in the past.

    One point you could’ve used to connect this post to class was Steinberg’s last chapter on climate change, and how human action effect the sea level rise.

    Also, just adding on to this post, there are places already being directly effected by rising sea levels. For example, the people of Kiribati are already being displaced by flooding and higher seas.

  2. earthhist Post author

    This was a great post! I never thought about how rising sea levels could impact tourism which would lead to economic and environmental issues. You covered all major points and this was very organized and easy to follow.

  3. zak gentile

    The loss of the polar bears is one of the saddest things i’ve ever seen. I watched a whole movie on this last year. The bears swim for miles on end trying to find food and land to stand on. For the first time in history polar bears are found dead by drowning. Like we just talking about in class the Netherlands are doomed if this continues. The scariest thing about this for people is contamination of fresh water. Great blog love the 2012 picture.

  4. Hayley Pettinato

    This is a great article and it brings up some alarming points. I live in in New York and saw firsthand the effects of hurricane Sandy; I can say that rising sea levels are incredibly detrimental to coastal areas. This article shines light on the urgency to make a change so that these “apocalyptic” scenarios do not take place. Also, it’s crazy to think that rising sea levels have such a massive effect on farming and drinking water as well.

  5. Sarah Bartlett

    Great blog entry Stephanie! Rising sea levels is one of the environmental topics I am most interested in as an environmental science major. Most people do not understand the horrific effects it is going to have not only on animals but on humans as well. Unfortunately a lot of people do not care as much about biodiversity being affected but as you pointed out our drinking water will be contaminated, farming would be affected, and tourism would be affected. This may hit home for many people. I spend summers on a beach on the South Shore in Massachusetts and if sea levels continue to rise my favorite place will just be part of the ocean floor.

  6. Clairee Putnam

    Great post! I first learned about the rising sea levels in high school and did not realize how serious of a problem it is. You did a great job providing facts and explaining the significance of the issue. I enjoyed how you listed some effects of rising sea levels that do not concern losing land or the different populations.

  7. christian smith

    Great post! you did a great job covering the many different effects of sea level rising about how the land loss for plants, animals, and even humans is detrimental ! I think you did a great job relating everything together and making it very easy to understand.

    Do you think this raises high concern for the lowering sea levels of areas that are pumping water out of the earth causing them to drop?


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