Water And Oceanography

How the Change in Sea Level Impacts the Climate

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"How the Change in Sea Level Impacts the Climate"
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According to estimates, around 600 million people worldwide live in coastal areas that are less than 10 meters above the sea level, while around two-thirds of the world cities that have a population of more than 5 million each are also located in similar areas. With scientists predicting the sea levels to rise more than half a meter by 2100, most of the low-lying coastal areas would be at risk of the grave repercussions of the rising sea levels.

Factors leading to a rise in the seawater levels

The rise in the sea level can be attributed to many different reasons. Among them, rising temperatures in the seawater that leads to its expansion, the meltdown of the glaciers and ice caps and the falling of precipitate more in the form of water than in the form of snow can be highlighted. While the cumulative effects of these factors would be the rising level of the sea, the rising sea level in turn will have a detrimental effect on the coastal climate with regard to several different aspects.

Climate related impact of the rising levels of seawater

With the rising sea levels, it is predicted that the ferocity of some of the storms would be multiplied in the coming century. This would mean that the low-lying coastal areas would experience more frequent and more devastating flooding, which can last for a much longer duration than at present. The reasons for such a prediction are the relatively higher amount of precipitate that would be carried out by the storms, as well as the elevation of the wave height that would result from such storms. Together, the effects can be devastating. As the force delivered by such storm waves rises with the rising levels of sea water, the amount of coastal erosion that takes place could also rise. Landslides can become much more common in these communities than at present, and it would be much more dangerous to live in such places if the sea level rises as predicted by the scientific community.

The impact of the seawater on the availability of fresh water in these regions is another important consideration. The ground water in these regions might be contaminated by the salty seawater if the rising sea water levels give rise to an in-flow of the seawater. Such an in-flow can make ground water in these regions un-usable for human consumption and unsuitable for agriculture work. Indirectly, such contamination may also affect the fresh water micro-climates associated with such water sources and therefore might lead to the disappearance of many of the organisms that are living in such micro-climates.

In addition to the effects described above, the rising levels of seawater would also influence the wetlands, which are useful to protect the land against flooding, to filter out pollutants and to provide a habitat for many living creatures. At the same time, the changes that take place in relation to the wetlands can secondarily lead to a loss in the stability of the shoreline, which can augment the problems faced by the coastal belt against a rising seawater level.

More about this author: Dr Pandula Siribaddana

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