How fast is sea level rising?

Published: 2017
Product type: Science Brief
Categories: Land Ice & Sea Level Rise

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A direct and ubiquitous consequence of our warming climate is rising sea level. Increasing rates of warming have accelerated the rate of sea level rise and the frequency of coastal flooding.

Why it matters

Flooding is the most common and most expensive natural disaster. Sea level changes tend to be gradual, but serve as the “launching pad” for storm surges, tides, and waves, allowing them to drive water farther inland, increasing damage to ecosystems and coastal development and threatening human life. Between storms, a gradually rising sea level erodes coastal infrastructure, shortening the lifetimes of resort facilities and commercial industries. Multiple factors contribute to rising sea level but regardless of source, the interconnectedness of the world’s oceans distribute these changes globally.