Rising Sea Levels: Causes and Effects

Is sea level really rising? This would be one of the repeatedly asked questions in the past decade. Yes, it’s true that the global sea level has been rising in the last two decades. The satellite record since 1993 has revealed that the sea level was above the 1993 average in 2014 and likely rise at higher rates in the coming years, posing a huge threat to the environment and the living beings inhabiting it. The rapid growth in science and technology has led to the rise in carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide emissions into the atmosphere, deteriorating our environment and ecology at a significant pace.

According to latest reports, it has been estimated that the world would see a sea level rise of around 2.3 meters for each degree Celsius of temperature rise within the next two thousand years. Researchers are also suggested that the sea level rise in some locations would be higher from that of the global average because of local factors including subsidence, the difference in ocean currents, erosion, and variations in land height, among others. However, the increasing sea level will see deadly storms that enter inland than they did earlier, putting the lives of every single living on earth into risk.

Why is this happening?

The major cause of the rising sea levels is nothing but the global warming, a phenomenon that has started to occur very rapidly with the fast development of the industrial age. And, the rise in sea level is occurred by two factors linked to global warming, i.e the melting of ice sheets as well as glaciers, and the expansion of sea water due to warming.

sea levels
Representation Image

In scientific terms, the global warming results when the commodities we use emit a higher proportion of poisonous gases like carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into the atmosphere, allowing the heat getting trapped into the atmosphere instead of dissolving as it generally should. The burning of fossil fuels and other activities have caused the release of an extensive amount of heat-trapping gases in the past century. The trapped heat now results in abnormally warming the air, known as the Green House Effect, thus resulting in melting of the in the Arctic and the Antarctic. Moreover, the Green House Effect results in the warming of the ocean as the sea waters are absorbing over 90 percent of the increased atmospheric heat.

Effects of sea-level rise

These rising sea levels pose a major threat to island nations and coastal areas meaning that these areas could be swamped and submerged by water anytime in the future. In countries like the United States, where almost 40 percent of the population resides in coastal areas, the flooding due to sea-level rise is expected to create adverse effects. Studies have suggested that the frequency of disruptive flooding in the region is expected to increase from 300 percent to 900 percent compared to the frequency recorded in fifty years ago. In order to invite the global attention to such a threat, the Indian Ocean island nation the Maldives had conducted the world’s first underwater cabinet meeting in 2009. This island nation’s 350,000 inhabitants are reportedly residing on 1,192 coral islands, which are located an average of only 2.1 meters above the sea level.

Additionally, because of global warming and the resultant rising sea levels, there is a threat of extinction of several types of plants and animals which need and thrive only in the cold climate. Animals like the polar bear and penguins essentially need the coldness for their existence and due to our continuous abuse of carbon dioxide and monoxide gas, are the first ones to face the possibilities of a sure-shot extinction. Besides these, the rise in sea level would also make an impact on the lives on beaches. The presence of more saltwater on the shores will disrupt the ecosystem, resulting In the vanishing of different kinds of plants. In addition to it would make to the soil and plants, the wildlife on the beaches would also be hurt by the rapid changes in the climate conditions.

And if these animals are facing the threat of extinction, then humans living in coastal areas and island nations also face the threat of getting submerged in case a deluge happens. Rising sea levels could cause the water levels to increase and invade in the residential areas thus causing a lot of problem to the locales. And unlike other natural calamities, where migration could solve problems, in the case of rising sea levels and the expectant troubles, migration to other parts of the world will be futile because every land form in the globe is bordered by in one way or the other.

Since around 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is water-covered, one of the biggest crisis that human and other beings on earth would face is the contamination of drinking water. Higher sea levels mean the surge of to farther inland areas and contaminating drinking water sources. Similarly, the contamination of freshwater sources would also affect irrigation and farming, eventually leading us to a food crisis. And, the cost associated with the seawater desalination would make an unsustainable practice to deal with the crisis.

One of the immediate impacts of the increasing sea level on the economy would be the threat posed the tourism industry. The frequent flooding and the destruction of beaches would break the backbone of the tourism industry. Recently in North Carolina, US, the local authorities had restricted coastal policymakers from using rising sea-level rise predictions to serve the economic interests of the region.

Since the total concentration of the water-bodies being more than two-thirds of the earth, global warming and the rising sea levels are a serious problem that has to be tackled. A natural calamity like the Katrina or the Tsunami that hit the coasts of the South East Asian Nations is itself difficult to tackle. In a way, these calamities are restricted to just one part of the world, but because of rising sea levels, the whole world stands to lose ground at a single time. And this is a crisis that is occurring every day. Every day, little-by-little the glaciers in the Arctic and the Antarctic are melting thus giving way to rising sea levels and a little less chance to experience living for the future generation.

At the present moment, most of us are worried about the extinction of the tigers and vultures, but with the development has led to an adverse effect on the environment, it has become evident that even our survival in the future has become questionable. But, whether human innovations can save the earth from an anticipated disaster remains controversial. Since there are more political and social factors playing roles in this, the result of such efforts is unpredictable. However, in line with the Paris climate accord, many countries across the world are working hard to cut greenhouse gases. We should all ensure that it is quite possible that if we try and change, we can put an end to the problem of global warming and rising sea levels. And since it is a question of need and wants, it becomes very important that we change and start to respect and preserve our ecology and environment.

Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

The article or images cannot be reproduced, copied, shared or used in any form without the permission of the author and Marine Insight. 


  1. what are the exact plant and animals areound the world that are being effected by global warming.

  2. Great info! Helped me with my homework a great deal. Can you guys write more about different types of animals in the marine ecosystem? Thanks!

  3. it is informative but i expected you to wrote about how it affect the marine life(ecosystem). thank you……

  4. Your article accepts that Anthropomorphic Global Warming is proven science. While the majority of universities and governments back this position today, I predict it will be debunked within 10 years, as the “missing hotspot” that is the telltale sign of carbon-induced warming becomes more widely known and alternative theories about global climate change are explored.

  5. Really?
    ” rapid growth in science and technology has led to the rise in carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide emissions into the atmosphere”

  6. When free unlimited infinite power is developed for use to reverce mankinds effects ,machines that clean water and air need high quality long term operators with children that sustain life.as god .intends this is now .the energy companys greed destroys hope of free energy by suragating presidents

  7. If the global warming is the ligically found near root cause of the “sea level rise”
    then prima facie the human race living on land can and should adopt a unique principle of land topography to safeguard themselves from this dangerous phenomenon of sea level rise.
    This can achieved with the fact of considering the TOPOGRAPHY of each land in existence.
    All the water that is generated/poured through natural phenomenon of Raining and Snowing contiuously ,keeps on flowing back to Seas (aftre loosing certain portion in subsoil/evaporation/vegitative growths/and consumptions in various forms)
    This sweet water/productive water looses its useful struture of productivity once it mixes with sea water.
    All the water (sweet water)received through rains and snowing will be firstly stored in huge canal reservoirs ,which are slightly away from the seashore(possibly not allowing creeks/estuaries to contaminate) to such an extent of depth that the perrenial water quantity sufficient for at least one years stock is stored there and the “EXCESS WATER OVERFLOWS AT SUITABLY PLACED OVERFLIW WEIRS AT APPROPRIATE LOCATIONS”



    Arun Bandi

  8. Note this is satellite data rather than actual measurements (that have been taken for centuries). Satellite data cannot be as accuate as the on site recordings. Interesting to also note that big investment in new airport in Maldives. If supposed be be under water why spend on projects. Wealthy also buying up land there???

  9. It’s funny how many people can predict what mother nature is going to do,and that most people who wrote about the weather seem to act like there climatologist.if ever you actually read about pass weather patterns you would see that there been worse than what were experiencing and man then didn’t contribute to the problem.we might be apart of it but not as big as there saying,and what’s money going to do to change nature,nothing it’s about funding there pet projects giving them large incomes.

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