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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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