Sea Levels Rising: Causes and Consequences

Ramon Reid ’23

One major global problem that we are combating right now is the effects of climate change and how it is currently contributing to a rapid rise in sea levels. Sea levels have risen about 8-9 inches since 1880, according to This can pose an existential problem in the future considering the millions of people in the United States that live along the coast line or in a coastal area. These coastal cities are in danger of slipping away into the ocean as sea levels continue to rise at such an unprecedented rate. According to “In 2020, global mean sea level was 91.3 millimeters (3.6 inches) above the 1993 average, making it the highest annual average in the satellite record.” To think that the global sea level average has risen 3.6 inches in the course of a 27 year period is alarming and needs to be addressed. 

Unfortunately due to global warming Earth’s temperature has taken a sharp and rapid increase, leading to abnormal temperatures during the summer. Winter has also been affected by global warming. Usually in winter a necessary amount of snowfall is produced in order to contribute to the making of glaciers and ice sheets. The amount of snow has drastically decreased leading to smaller amounts of snowfall, which can’t be able to make up for the huge heaps of ice melted during summer. This imbalance caused by global warming is evidently a major reason why our sea levels are rising. On the other hand there is another explanation for rising sea levels, thermal expansion. As the temperature of water increases so does its volume, therefore leading it to expand and fill up more space in the ocean. According to National Geographic approximately half of the sea level rises have been connected to the oceans warming, during the course of a 25 year period. 

The rising of sea levels will have devastating consequences on our planet in the future. In accordance with “Higher sea levels are coinciding with more dangerous hurricanes and typhoons that move more slowly and drop more rain, contributing to more powerful storm surges that can strip away everything in their path.”  Extreme weather will become a new normal due to rising sea levels, eventually these changes in weather patterns will begin to affect global infrustruce and the lives of people. We’ve already experienced the effects of rising sea levels, through hurricane Katrina and Superstrom Sandy. National Geographic says that sea level rise these storms will move more inland and devastate more territory. In addition to these storms, rising sea levels are having a major effect on freshwater aquifers. states that rising sea levels are causing saltwater intrusion, which is the contamination of freshwater sources. Typically freshwater aquifers are meant to provide water for agriculture, cities, and natural ecosystems who depend upon it.