Sea level rise is caused by two factors related to global warming: the added water coming from the melting of land ice, and the expansion of sea water as it warms up (thermal expansion). During the period 2003-2008 the average rate of sea level rise has been 2.5 mm/yr, a smaller scale than the period 1993-2003 (3.1 mm/yr). The contribution of different factors involved in sea level rise has changed in the latest period, so for the period 2003-2008 80% of the sea level rise is due to the contribution of the polar ice sheets and mountain glaciers melting while thermal expansion contributed 50% of sea level rise for the period 1993-2003 (Cazenave et al. 2008). Future changes in the climate will accelerate the sea level rise. The IPCC did not include the full dynamic ice sheet responses in their projections, so its estimated sea level rise from 18-59 cm by 2100 is considered as conservative (WWF 2008). However, estimations from assessments and ice loss projections in Greenland and in West Antarctica suggest a sea level rise from 0.8 to 2 meters by 2100 (Pfeffer et al. 2008).
Find out more:
- AMAP. (2011) Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA): Climate Change and the Cryosphere. Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), Oslo, Norway. Xii + 538pp.
- AMAP, 2012. Arctic Climate Issues 2011: Changes in Arctic Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost. SWIPA 2011 Overview Report. AMAPs 2011 assessment of the Arctic Cryosphere (the SWIPA assessment) updates information presented in the 2004/5 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment.
- Hallegatte, S., Green, C., Nicholls, R.J. and Corfee-Morlot, J. (2013) Future flood losses in major coastal cities. Nature Climate Change 3, 802–806 (2013) doi:10.1038/nclimate1979
- National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NISDC)
- NOAA Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer
- Pfeffer W. et al. 2008. Kinematic Constraints on Glacier Contributions to 21st- Century Sea-Level
- Rahmstorf, S., Cazenave, A., Church, J. A., Hansen, J. E., Keeling, R. F., Parker, D. E. and Somerville, R. C. J. (2007) Recent climate observations compared to projections. Science 316: 709.
- Rignot,E., Velicogna,I., van den Broeke,M.R., Monaghan, A. and Lenaerts, J. (2011) Acceleration of the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise
- World Bank (2010) Turn down the Heat. Why a 4 degree centigrade warmer world must be avoided.