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Rising Sea Levels Spell Big Problems

Greenland / John McConnico / Associated Press / file 2007

Over the past century global warming has dramatically increased sea levels. A new study that studied the changes in ocean levels during the last 2,100 years demonstrates some startling statistics.

According to Huffington Post, researchers have found that since the late 19th century, as communities moved from rural to urban lifestyles in response to the industrial revolution, sea level has risen more than 2 millimeters per year. It may not seem like much, but over time the millimeters add up.


Benjamin Horton, whose team examined sediment from North Carolina’s Outer Banks speculates that over time it will lead to land loss, flooding, and saltwater seeping into fresh water bodies. Horton directs the Sea Level Research Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania. Horton’s ideas about rising sea levels aren’t something entirely new, in fact the majority of other climate scientists completely agree with his facts.

The researchers looked to history to find clues to the looming issue of rising sea level today. They found that sea levels were stable from 100 B.C. to 950 A.D. During the 11th century a warmer climate period began and sea levels rose about half a millimeter and continued that way for 400 years. This period was followed by another stable sea level period associated with global cooling. Not until the 19th century, did sea levels once again begin to rise.

Over the last century an increase in the use of fossil fuels like coal and oil have led to increased global temperatures, which most scientists now believe is directly linked to rising sea levels. Scientists are concerned that melting ice in Greenland, Antarctica, and elsewhere could lead to dramatic increases in sea levels across the globe.

Full details regarding the study are available in this week’s edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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