Why Does Sea Level Rise Matter?
April 23, 2024

Why in News? As per a new study published in Science Journal, China’s quarter of the coastal land will sink below sea level within a century due to land subsidence and climate change resulting in rise of sea levels.

How Fast is the Global Sea Level Rising? It has risen by about 8–9 inches since 1880, according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the rate has been accelerating since 1993 (almost doubled). A huge jump of about 0.3 inches was seen between 2022-2023 mainly due to the development of El Niño (a weather pattern associated with warmer oceans). Now that El Niño is weakening, the rate of sea level rise is expected to slow down. The current rates of acceleration could double by 2050 compared to previous 100 years and increase the frequency of floods.

Impact of Climate Change on Sea Level Rise-Glaciers and Ice-sheets are melting at an accelerated rate due to global warming and adding water to the ocean. Global warming is also making oceans warmer leading to thermal expansion and contributing to sea level rise. A 2023 study found that glaciers in Greenland were melting five times faster than in 20 years.

Why Does Sea Level Rise Matter? Because sea level rise results in-

  • Submersion of coastal areas. For example, as per a 2022 analysis by a global risk management firm some parts of Mumbai, Kochi, Mangalore, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, and Thiruvananthapuram will be submerged by 2050.
  • More intense storm surges (seawater level rises due to a storm), flooding, and damage to coastal areas.
  • Saltwater contamination of freshwater aquifers, many of which are used by communities for agricultural and drinking purposes.