Global average sea levels have risen by 10 – 25 cms over the past 100 years. In the next 100 years they could rise by another 50 cms (maybe more).
This is due, not only to melting polar ice and glaciers adding extra water to the seas, but to the sea water expanding as it heats up.
This could mean total disaster for many islands and coastal areas, especially river delta areas.
A sea level rise of 1 metre could mean estimate land losses of 0.05% in Uruguay, 1% in Egypt, 6% in the Netherlands, 17.5% in Bangladesh and up to 80% for Atoll Majuro in the Marshall Islands.
Bangladesh consists mainly of low lying deltas – rising sea levels, together with increased tropical storms will see millions of people having to flee their homes.
In the Pacific Ocean there many tiny islands that are at risk of being totally covered by the sea. Two islands: Tebua Tarawa and Abanuea (the beach which is long lasting) in the Kiribati group of islands, have already been covered by sea water.
On the right, Tepuka Savilivili is another islet that has been destroyed by rising seas, which washed off the coconut trees and other vegetation.
Tuvalu, a group of nine coral atolls has started to evacuate is population to New Zealand. 75 people are moving annually. This picture shows the centre of the island flooding during a very high tide.
In river delta areas are richly fertile agricultural areas and many large cities. The impact on populations and economies could be very large indeed.
In other areas coastal erosion could increase, and salty sea water could spoil underground aquifers of freshwater that local populations rely on for drinking.
Melting polar ice could also affect ocean water movement. It is thought that the Gulf Stream could be diverted further south by the addition of cold water from the north, changing much of western Europe’s weather patterns.
Even if you live safely on a hill, rising sea levels will affect you. So many large populations of people live in areas at risk of permanent flooding, you will either be paying for their protection, or for their resettlement.