By Lauren Sanders

The Problem

Over the past century, the Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) has risen by 4 to 8 inches. The problem is linked to global warming and has caused one third of the Arctic sea ice has melted in recent decades. If the temperatures and sea levels continue to rise at the same rates, year-round ice in the Arctic Ocean could be gone by 2030.


Rising temperatures caused by global warming leads to the shrinkage of land ice, consisting of mountain glaciers and polar ice sheets. This adds more water to the oceans. Another cause is that as temperatures rise, warm water expands. When the warm water starts to expand, it has nowhere to go but up, also adding to the height of the oceans.

Effecfs on the Environment, Animals, and Humans

Rising sea levels are inundating coastal ecosystems and dicimating local plant and wildlife populations. When the salt water intrudes the soil of coastal ecosystems, plants that cannot cope with the change in soil salinity may disappear from the shoreline. This problem also causes an increase in soil erosion, more pollution, more severe storm damage and flooding. Wildlife that live on beaches will suffer; birds' nests will be swept away and many species' offspring will not survive. Rising sea levels contaminate groundwater supplies and threatens landfill and hazardous-waste sites. People living on the coast will have to move away if the oceans get too high. It also threatens coastal roads, bridges, docks, and piers.

What Will Happen if We Don't do Anything?

If people continue to add greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere, the average sea level around the world at the end of the century could be anywhere between 7 to 23 inches higher than in was in 1990. Coastlines will change and portions of Greenland and the west Antartic ice caps may disappear.
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What Can We Do?

The most important action we can take is to burn less fossil fuels, because they add greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere that cause the temperatures across the entire world to rise. Ways to decrease the emissions of greenhouse gases is to reduce fracking, motor vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions and chemical solvents, as well as creating fewer CFCs and cutting back on anything that creates smoke or soot. Coastal communities and cities can align comprehensive climate protection with economic development strategies, such as flood protection or relocation to higher grounds. These solutions however would be adapting to the rising sea levels, while we need to focus on preventing the problem.