Alarming rise in sea and ocean levels

Over the past three decades, the sea and ocean levels have risen by a startling 9 centimeters, and forecasts indicate this phenomenon will continue to accelerate. Between 1993 and 2022, the rate of rise doubled from 0.2 cm to 0.44 cm annually, and by 2050 it is expected to reach 0.66 cm per year. NASA’s analyses predict that in the coming decades, sea and ocean levels will increase by an additional 30 cm, posing significant changes for many world regions, including the flooding of coastal areas such as in the United States.

The primary cause of these changes is the melting of glaciers and ice sheets, which are releasing vast amounts of freshwater into the oceans. Observations of the rapid pace of Antarctic glacier melting and the decreasing ice cover of Greenland directly impact the global sea and ocean levels, contributing to their rise.

Satellite altimetry data collected by missions such as TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason, and Sentinel-6 provide valuable information on global sea and ocean level changes. These precise measurements indicate a steady annual increase of 3.9 mm, illustrating the massive scale of water added to the oceans each year. Regional differences in the rate of sea level rise, evident on NASA’s maps, highlight the complexity of the phenomenon, which is modified by changes in ocean currents.

Understanding these complex processes is crucial for predicting future changes and assisting coastal communities in adapting to new conditions. NASA scientists emphasize the importance of continuous monitoring and advanced modeling to better understand and predict these global changes.

Every centimeter of sea and ocean level rise could result in losing about a meter of coastline, threatening infrastructure and marine ecosystems. The increase of 103 mm since 1992, and especially the acceleration of this rise in the last decade to 3.9 mm annually, underscores the urgent need for actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to inevitable changes. These strategic insights are essential for developing effective environmental protection and adaptive strategies to minimize the adverse effects of climate change on people and the environment worldwide.

Additionally, it is worth noting that the impact of sea level rise is not uniform worldwide. For example, in regions like Florida or the Pacific Islands, rising sea levels can have dramatic effects due to the low elevation of these areas. Understanding local conditions and proper planning can help minimize these changes’ effects, which is particularly important in the context of the predicted increase in frequency and intensity of weather phenomena such as hurricanes and storms, which can further exacerbate erosion and flood risks.

About the author

Picture of Grzegorz Bubak

Grzegorz Bubak

My fascination with marine aquariums began over two decades ago when I stumbled upon an article about this topic in a magazine. Since then, the underwater world has become my obsession and passion, shaping my everyday life. I started my adventure with marine aquariums with soft corals, which were my first step into this fascinating world. Over time, captivated by the diversity and beauty of SPS corals, I decided to focus on their cultivation, which continues to fill me with constant wonder.

Thanks to my experience and passion for marine aquariums, I am ready to share my knowledge and expertise with other enthusiasts in this field. I am happy to be part of the Reef Pedia community, which serves as an invaluable source of information for all marine aquarium lovers.