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12 Causes of Sea Level Rise – Effects

by Fitriani

Climate change is an occurrence where there is a change in the average condition of the weather. The changing climate is often affected by natural causes such as volcanic eruptions or solar radiation. Many human activities have also contributed to the rapid speed of climate change. Climate change has impacted the continuous sea level rise.

Each year the number of the sea level increases. The increase in sea level will have a major impact on lands, marine creatures and humans. This article will give you the 12 Causes of Sea Level Rise from Climate Change. The effects from the climate change are also explained so that you can realize the importance of this issue that we are facing today.

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1. Thermal Expansion

Climate change causes an increase in the temperature of the sea. It affects the overall climate at which the sea is at is normal state which is thoroughly explained in Climate of the Ocean. As a result of the world’s climate change, the water in the sea experiences a process called expansion. As a result, the water in the sea experiences a process called expansion. When the sea water gets hot, all of it will begin to expand. This occurrence is specifically termed as thermal expansion. For the past 50 up to100 years, thermal expansion has been majorly responsible for the rise of sea level.

2. Melting Glaciers

Glaciers are not only found in extremely cold regions of the world. They are also found on the highest peaks of many mountains. These glaciers would eventually melt during warmer weather. However, due to the rapid increase in heat during these past years, the glaciers are melting at a faster rate.

3. Melting Polar Ice

Melting polar ice also contributes to the sea level rise. The process of polar ice melting is natural. Both the sea and the polar ice work together to keep the sea level at a normal level. The sea water would evaporate as the polar ice melts adding more water. But the warm weather of the world makes the polar ice to melt at a faster rate more than what the sea is capable of evaporating. The increasing amount of water around the polar ice will also cause the other ice to melt faster.

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4. Glaciers Run Off from Greenland

Greenland is one of the biggest islands in the world. The island is mostly covered in ice. It is estimated that the run off from the glaciers in the island have significantly affected the level of the sea. The melting glaciers contribute up to around 0.5 meter in the level of the sea. Since the climate change is getting worse, we can expect an increase in the number which means the level will get higher. Continuous run off will greatly affect the level of the world’s oceans in the coming years.

5. Ice Sheet Loss from Greenland

Besides the glaciers run off from the Greenland, the loss of ice sheet is also a major concern to the rising sea level. According to studies, if one day all the ice sheet in the Greenland has completely melted then the ocean will experience a sea level rise up to around 7.2 metres. Moreover, the climate change is making it a bit unpredictable to know how quickly this can happen.

6. Ice Sheet Loss from Antarctic

Other than affecting a huge loss of ice sheet in the Greenland, the climate change is also causing a massive loss in the Antarctic. The estimated total loss from the Antarctic will be more devastating than the one in Greenland. The estimation for the complete loss of all the ice in Antarctic can make the sea level to rise up to 61.1 metres. This will cause an irreversible effect to the land formation on earth as most lands would probably end up underwater.

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7. Thinning Ice in West Antarctic

According to scientists, the ice sheet in the West Antarctic has also played a major role in increasing the level of the sea. It is estimated that each year the region increases the level of the sea by 0.24 millimetres. Throughout the years, the ice sheet in the West Antarctic experiences rapid melting due to warmer temperature. The ice sheet in the West Antarctic has the potential of giving a maximum rise of 3.3 metres to the level of the sea.

8. Glacial Earthquakes in Greenland

The glacier areas in Greenland experience several glacial earthquakes each year. These glacial earthquakes are powerful with a magnitude reaching from 5.0 up to 6.1 in the seismic scale. The earthquakes only happen to glaciers move for more than 1 kilometre in a year. The glacial earthquakes happen more frequently starting from the month of July until September. There are reports that the number of these earthquakes keep increasing due to the rapid climate change in the world.

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9. Floating Ice Sheet

There are plenty of ice sheets that float in the sea water of Greenland and West Antartica. Underneath these sheets, the sea water slowly moves them quickly towards the sea. The more the ice sheets move into the direction of the sea, the easier it is to become additional water for the sea. The ever increasing heat from climate change also makes it easier for these ices sheets to melt at a faster pace than ever before.

10. Breaking Ice Shelves

As the world continues to get hotter and hotter, the warm sea water weakens all the ice that are under the water. Huge chunks of ice shelves are beginning to break from the weakened ice underneath. The ice falls apart to smaller pieces. The smaller pieces of ice are more vulnerable and easier to melt into water by the heat.

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11. Unreflected Radiation

Since climate change causes heat that dissolves most of the world’s ice, the world has lost most of its ability to reflect back radiation into space. Snow and ice have the ability to reflect 90% of radiation that gets in the Earth. However, since most of the ice has slowly started to deplete, most of the radiation that comes in will be less likely to be reflected out. Instead it stays in and causes more damage in the earth atmosphere. It also makes climate change worse which eventually causes more melting of the ice.

12. Unhealthy Ocean from Climate Change

Most of the time, weather determines the quality of the air which means that climate change plays a role in it too. Reportedly the climate change has made the air quality to be poorer. Poor air quality influences the health of the ocean in the world. The health of the ocean can become poor too which affects its ability to carry out its natural activity such as water evaporation or the absorption of carbon dioxide. Unhealthy ocean means that it is more vulnerable to changes. It most likely can’t keep up with the regular increase of the various melting glaciers and ice sheets. Therefore the rise of the sea level could get quicker.

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Effects of Sea Level Rise from Climate Change

Now that you know most of the causes of sea level rise from climate change, it is time to know some of the effects that it causes. Below are some of the devastating effects from the rising of the sea level.

  • Loss of Land: The increasing amount of the sea water will eat up more land as it expands to untouched territories. Loss of land such as the beaches or the bay areas would be unavoidable as water keeps moving inland.
  • Destroyed Marine Habitat: The sea water will destroy a lot of of marine habitat such as the mangrove trees area and the wetlands. Many fishes and marine birds make those places as their homes.
  • Reduced Amount of Sunlight: An increase of the sea water will mean a reduction of sunlight penetrating through the water. The sunlight will not be able to reach most marine plants, such as seaweeds, that need it to carry out photosynthesis. Sunlight is an important factor that keeps them alive.
  • Marine Extinction: When most plants already find it hard to exist due to a lack of sunlight then the whole food chain will be disrupted. Every marine creature will be affected even those that live in the deepest parts of the sea.
  • Destroyed Buildings and Homes: High level of sea water will cause submerging lands. Those areas might consist of buildings and homes. People who live there will no longer have their shelter and will have to move elsewhere.
  • Worse Storm Surges: The rising sea level will definitely cause worse storm surges that are caused by the different Types of Ocean Storms. More destructions will happen during natural disasters as the sea water travels inland.
  • Animals Drowning: More sea water will have a high chance of drowning animals such as the polar bears. There have been reports of them drowning due to exhaustion as they swim in search of food.

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The average rate of the sea level rise might be slow. But recent studies show that the unpredictable condition of the climate change has increased the speed of the process. Although we are unable to stop natural causes from contributing to the rising level of the sea, we can change our lifestyle and activities to further worsen the speed at which it occurs.

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