Sea Level Rise Local Examples

Since 1900 sealevels have risen 12.3inches in NewYorkCity; 8.3 inches in Baltimore; 9.9 inches in Philadelphia; 7.3 inches in Key West, Florida; 22.6 inches in Galveston, Texas; and 6 inches in San Francisco (Boyd, 2001, A-3). The rate of sea level rise has been accelerating over time. At the port of Baltimore, at the head of Chesapeake Bay, for example, the water level crept up at only about one-tenth of an inch per year for much of the twentieth century. After 1989, however, the level rose by half an inch per year, according to Court Stevenson, a researcher at the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science (Boyd, 2001, A-3).

Sea levels have risen 12 to 20 inches on the Maine coast and as much as 2 feet along Nova Scotia's coastline in 250 years, according to an international team of researchers. Global warming is the main factor, said Roland Gehrels, of the University of Plymouth in England. He said that the rate of sea level rise accelerated during the twentieth century, "as industrialization swept the globe" (Global Warming Blamed, 2001, 20-A).

Alarm over rising sea levels and subsidence in Shanghai, China's largest city (population 16 million), has prompted officials to consider building a dam across its main river, the Huangpu. "Its main function is to prevent the downtown areas from being inundated with floods," Shen Guoping, an urban planning official, told the China Daily (Shanghai Mulls, 2004). Rising water levels of the Huangpu, provoked by rising sea levels due to global warming as well as subsidence, has resulted in construction of floodwalls hundreds of kilometers in length. At the

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Sea level measurements, Fort Point, San Francisco, 1900-2000 (Jeff Dixon)

same time, subsidence caused by pumping of groundwater and rapid construction of skyscrapers has averaged over 10 millimeters a year.

A 0.5- to 1-meter rise in sea levels could submerge three of India's biggest cities (Mumbai, Calcutta, and Chennai) by 2020, according to Rajiv Nigam, a scientist with India's Geological Oceanography Division. Nigam said that a 1-meter rise in sea level could cause 5 trillion rupees (roughly US$100 billion) worth of damage to property in the Indian state of Goa alone. "If this is the quantum of damage in a small state like Goa that has only two districts, imagine the extent of property loss in metros like Bombay (Mumbai)," Nigam added at a workshop in the National College in Dirudhy, Tamil Nadu (Warming Could Submerge, 2003).

By the year 2000, rising sea levels were nibbling up to 150 meters a year from the low-lying, densely populated Nile River delta. In Rosetta, Egypt, a seawall two stories high has slowed the march of the sea, which is compounded by land subsidence in the delta, but "sea walls cannot stop the rising [salinity of] the palm groves and fields adjoining the shore" (Bunting, 2000, 1). A 1-meter rise in sea level could drown most of the Nile Delta, 12 percent of Egypt's arable land, home, in 2004, to 7 million people.

The Beach Drowns at Daytdna, Florida

As with many beaches on the Atlantic Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico coast of the United States, Daytona and Flagler Beaches, in northeastern Florida,

Coastal Stump Example Global

Erosion at Flagler Beach, Florida (Bruce E. Johansen)

have been eroding for decades not only because seas are rising, but also because the natural protection of dunes has been stripped away for condominium development. The land is also subsiding in many places because underground water has been removed for human consumption.

Daytona is notable because it was on this beach that American stock car racing was born. Less than a century ago, the broad, firm beach was wide enough for several stock cars to race abreast. Today the beach is wide (and very wet) only at low tide, and the "Daytona 500," which began on the beach, is held well inland on an asphalt track. Daytona is still the headquarters of

NASCAR, the national coordinating body of stock car racing.

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