Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Water, Sea, Environmental Issues, Ice, World, Ocean, Warming, Global Warming

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2023/02/22

Sea Level Rise

Sea level refers to an average horizontal level of the sea water surface between high and low tides. Over time, this level has kept on rising. Rise above sea level is, therefore, an increase in the mean level of the sea. This increment in sea level is attributed to some human activities. Global warming is the key factor leading the rise in sea level. Over the years, the global atmospheric concentration of carbon (IV) oxide, methane, chlorofluoromethane and other greenhouse gases has increased due to human activities that lead to their production. The carbon (IV) oxide is mainly emitted from combustion of fossil fuels and change of land use methods such as clearance of forests. Oxides of nitrogen and methane mainly originate from agriculture (Janin, Hunt &Mandia 4).
The presence of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere admits the direct radiation from the sun and prevents heat loss from the earth to the atmosphere. The heat prevented from moving to the atmosphere remains on the earth thus increasing the temperature on the earth surface. This increase in temperature on the earth surface due to increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is what is termed as global warming (Milliman, John & Bilal 2).
The rate at which the sea level rises is measured using a tide gauge measurement, satellites and other modern ways and computations are done from the data collected. According to researches that have been done, there are few causes of the rise in sea level. Before recent researches were done, there was, an argument that the rise in sea level was caused by long-term erosion of sandy beaches (UN and Climate Change 1). When sand and other soil particles along the shore of the oceans are eroded, they are carried away by the tides and deposited on the floor of the ocean. Continued deposition of the eroded materials led to rising of the depth of the sea or ocean. This led to a rise in the sea level. Another source of the eroded materials is the rivers and other streams whose mouth is the sea or ocean. The rate at which the sea level rises is however said to be small with respect to the rate at which the beach is eroded. It was found that the open sandy beaches on the US east coast erodes at a rate that averages about 159 times the rate of sea level rise (Douglas, Michael, & Stephen 2).
The input of fresh water from the melting glaciers and ice sheets is also a key element for the increase in the sea level. Glaciers and ice sheets are large masses of ice that is in motion, which forms the world’s largest reservoir of fresh water. Most of the ice sheets and glaciers found on the mountains in Greenland and Antarctica have lost some mass in the recent past (Janin 5). This is because more ice melts during summer and the replacement during winter keeps on reducing. The global warming also causes melting of the ice sheets. Glaciers and some icecaps have reacted to the global warming by retreating.
Research conducted using satellite and radar altimetry indicates that the mass of Greenland and Antarctica is gradually declining. The collected data indicates that the ice sheets of West Greenland and Antarctica are losing mass at a greater rate. Increased thinning of the ice sheets in the two named regions among others and breaking up of the ice that is skimmimg on water has increased the rate of retreat. This leads to an increased rate at which ice move to water bodies. Once in water bodies, this ice melts and increases the amount of water present in the sea. This increase in the amount of water available in the sea leads to rising in the sea level (Meyssignac & Cazenave 99).
Global warming has also facilitated melting of ice caps on mountains. The melted water ends up flowing into seas and oceans hence increasing the volume of water in the oceans and seas. The additional water added to seas and oceans leads to rising in the sea level (Janin 5). An example of the glacial retreat that has been documented is on Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. The melting back of ice caps, however, does not directly lead to a rise in the sea level. Instead, it leads to decrease in the reflectivity of the earth surface and increases the magnitude in which solar radiation gets to the earth surface. The absorbed radiation increases the warming of the earth surface and accelerates retreat of snow and ice. Ice melts and flows to the seas as a result. The ice on the sea breaks and allows for a faster flow of ice from the land to the water bodies. When this ice melts, the sea level rises.
Thermal expansion of oceanic water is another cause of the rise in sea level. According to research that have been done, it has been proved that the ocean heat content keeps on increasing. The rise in the heat content of oceanic water is due to the heat that is prevented by greenhouse gases from moving past the atmosphere. The increase in the oceanic heat content implies an increase in the rate at which water expands. Thermal expansion of oceanic water that results from increased heat content. As water expands, it occupies a larger volume than before. This increase in volume leads to rise in the sea level (Meyssignac 99).
A large population of people in United States lives in coastal counties. Some states have low-lying plains like Florida, North Carolina and California. These lowlands are vulnerable to the rising sea level. Rise in sea level is associated with negative impacts on people and the environment in the coastal region as described below. The first impact of the rise in sea level is degradation and erosion of coastal lands. Rise in sea level makes the waves penetrate to the interior parts of the land even during calm conditions. Interior penetration of waves will lead to erosion of the coastal plains. Rise in sea level will also lead to amplification of storm surges along the coastal region. Coastal storm normally surges when winds push water towards the land. The rise in sea level rises the level of water over which the wind is causing storms acts. When these winds act at the elevated level of water, they reach the further land and damage a lot of infrastructure and homes (UN and Climate Change 1).
With sea level anticipated to increase at a high rate, those people who live along the shorelines are going to be forced to relocate. Unless a precaution is taken the cities and towns, which were built along the coastal plains might be destroyed after a long period as the sea level keeps on increasing (Douglas 2).
Another serious impact of the rise in sea level is the encroachment of salty water into the fresh inland waters in the coastal aquifer regions. Saline water from the sea or ocean can intrude into coastal ground water sources as the sea level keeps on increasing. This intrusion leads to increase in the salinity of the fresh water inland water. Saline water intrusion is caused by both natural and human activities. One of the causes of seawater intrusion are as a result of rise in sea level which is caused by melting of ice sheets and glaciers and thermal expansion of sea water due to global warming (Werner, Adrian & Craig 197).
Salinization of fresh water affects water used for drinking and irrigation. Saline water will not support the growth of some crops and the overall effect is the reduction in food production along the coastal areas. Some plants in the forests along the coastal region might not thrive in saline conditions that result from saline water and soil. Some will trees struggle to tap water from the saline soils and this will result to stunted growth of vegetation along the coastal areas. The long term effect of this is the disappearance of coastal vegetation. (Werner, Adrian & Craig 197).
Rise in sea level will also result to the emergence of floods in places around the coastal region. Since the rate at which the sea level is rising is expected to rise over time, places around the coast or at the shoreline will at one time be flooded. Rivers with their mouths at the sea will start flooding, and these will both affect the people in the interior and those living along the shorelines.
The wildlife populations along the coast will also be threatened as the sea level rises. Erosion and flooding of the shoreline where animals like turtles and shorebirds live will affect their living. The nests of these animals might be swept away by the waves. Their habitats in the surrounding plants are also damaged by floods. Rise in sea level will finally affect the economy of some countries that depend on their beaches for the tourism industry. This is because as the sea rises, the beaches which act as tourist attractions is gradually covered by water. Waves and floods will also destroy tourist hotels and other infrastructure in the coastal area.
Since the rise in sea level has become a global challenge, measures should be put in place in order to curb the problems associated with this. This is because failure to counter the accelerating rise in the sea level will lead to a great loss of lives and property. There following are some of the recommendations on what should be done globally in order to reduce the encroaching effects of sea level rise.
Firstly, people staying along the shores should embrace traditional defensive measures like building sea walls and levees along the beaches where erosion is likely or has already taken place to protect against possible occurrence of floods. However, this precaution is not sustainable for a long period. Another precautionary measure is the elevation of flood-proof structures, which would curb flooding and inundation that may occur due to rise in sea level (Unep.org 1).
The major precaution that should be taken in order to curb this expected increase of rise in sea level is to deal with emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This is because a greater percentage of rise in sea level is attributed to an increasing emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This gases leads to global warming which leads to rising in sea level by melting ice sheets and leading to the expansion of the oceanic waters.
Companies or individuals owning industries, which emit greenhouse gases, should look for means of converting those gases into a useful function or proper disposal of them. Clearance of forests should be banned in order to reduce emission of these gases to the atmosphere. Alternative sources of fuel for vehicles should be thought of to avoid using vehicles, which use organic fuels. Carbon producing fuels like charcoal and burning of wood should be banned. Rigorous research should be carried out to come up with low carbon technologies in order to reduce the rate at which carbon oxides are emitted to the atmosphere.
Electronic equipment used in different home produces a lot of energy, which contributes to global warming. Countries should adapt use of energy efficient products such as fluorescent bulbs in order to save energy and prevent global warming. Adoption of renewable energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal energy will reduce the rate of global warming. Reduction in the rate of global warming will reduce the rate at which the sea level rises. The government should focus on ensuring that precautionary measures are in place to curb these arising problems (Unep.org 1).

Works Cited

Douglas, B C, Michael S. Kearney, and Stephen P. Leatherman. Sea Level Rise: History and Consequences. San Diego: Academic Press, 2001. Print.
Janin, Hunt, and Scott A. Mandia. Rising Sea Levels: An Introduction to Cause and Impact. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2012. Print.
Meyssignac, B, and A Cazenave. "Sea Level: a Review of Present-Day and Recent-Past Changes and Variability." Journal of Geodynamics. 58 (2012): 96-109. Print.
Milliman, John D, and Bilal U. Haq. Sea-level Rise and Coastal Subsidence: Causes, Consequences, and Strategies. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1996. Print.
UN and Climate Change, 'Sea-Level Rise In Small Island Nations To Cost US$ Trillions: Shift To Green Policies And Investment Critical - UN And Climate Change'. N.p., 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.
Unep.org,. '16Th Governing Council Session - Sea-Level Rise - United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)'. N.p., 2015. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.
Werner, Adrian D., and Craig T. Simmons. "Impact of sea‐level rise on sea water intrusion in coastal aquifers." Groundwater 47.2 (2009): 197-204.

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