Sea Level Rise affects us all.
For many regions of the world with coastal populations and major coastal cities, sea level rise will have a major impact on our way of life, our built infrastructure and how we plan for future development. On this page we bring you the science around sea level rise and look at the topics of mitigation and adaptation.
Sea levels are rising due to two main factors. Thermal expansion, the process where water expands as it gets warmer and the melting of land ice and glaciers which adds more water to the ocean. These factors are contributing to a current average sea level rise rate of 3.2 mm per year according to NASA satellite observations and land based measurements. Sea level rise and Global Warming are tightly linked so together, the decisions we make today will determine the future our grandchildren experience tomorrow.
The science behind Sea Level Rise projections.
Coast Adapt, Sea Level Rise and You is a modelling tool presented by NCCARF, the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility. This tool is available to all Australian Councils, Planners and interested people. We invite you to view the tool here, enter an Australian postcode and view the projected sea level rise under different emission level scenarios for the period 2050 and 2100. These links provide extensive information in an easy to use and understand format, and we encourage anyone with an interest to explore further.
There is extensive and credible scientific information available on the topics of climate change and sea level rise, we share a list of these via the following links.
Global sea level rise is caused by thermal expansion of warmer water plus contributions from melting land based ice sheets and glaciers. Regional sea level change, especially along coastlines, is influenced by additional factors, including vertical land movements, ocean currents, waves and tides, as well as winds and storms. So in order to estimate sea level inundation and flood risk, scientists have to understand all the factors that contribute to extreme water levels such as local sea level rise, land subsidence, tides, waves and storm surge. Regional sea level change is more variable, over both space and time, than global sea level change and can diverge by up to 20 centimetres or more from the global mean. – “NASA Sea Level Change” link to site here. Plus an extensive site on climate change evidence – NASA Climate Change.
Coastal Risk Australia is another modelling information site with an easy to use interactive tool to explore sea level inundation at locations around Australia.
You can access the tool here.
Scientists at the University of Melbourne have recently published possibly the most conclusive evidence yet of the dramatic fingerprint humans have had on our climate. Using ice core sampling and a comprehensive worldwide database that charts 43 green house gases, evidence shows we have never had GHG concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases this high in the past 800 000 years. View the technical report here.
Solutions – It’s not all doom and gloom.
“What if global warming is not an obstacle but an opportunity to innovate and re-imagine everything we make and do.” Paul Hawken
The natural environment has always been dynamic, the climate has always changed and sea levels have risen and fallen. Normally these cycles occur over thousands or tens of thousands of years, so when scientific measurements confirm that we have altered these natural cycles in only a few generations, the worlds scientific community sat up and took notice.
There are two factors considered when looking at how to reduce the detrimental effects of climate change, Mitigation where we aim to alter our ways of operation to lessen the effect, and Adaptation where some level of change is already locked in and we need to adapt our communities to lessen the impacts we will all experience. Below we share links to a couple of examples where pro active steps are being taken to adapt to rising sea levels.
To read more about mitigation strategies around climate change head back to the Climate Action Network page.
Lake Macquarie in NSW have identified that their community is at considerable risk from rising sea levels. They have conducted community consultation sessions and developed a Local Adaptation Plan. This progressive council is a step ahead of most other regional and city councils in that they have identified the risk to the community and are acting on it in an open and transparent way. View the plan here.
QCoast2100 is a Queensland Government initiative whose aim is to provide the funding, tools and technical support to enable all Queensland coastal local governments to progress the preparation of plans and strategies to address climate change related coastal hazard risks over the long-term. View the QCoast2100 site here.