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Use these Tools to Help Visualize the Horror of Rising Sea Levels
Angela Chen, The Verge
A handy collection of five online tools to help our imaginations see what will, and what might, be coming our way.
Elevation Zero: Rising Seas in South Florida
WLRN-Miami Herald News
Radio programs and transcripts for a good and varied series of stories focused
on the effects of sea-level rise in South Florida and the islands of the
Caribbean. Includes a 49-minute special that collects much of the story, aired
November 14, 2013.
(1-49 minutes, 2013-14)
Acid Test: The Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification
Natural Resources Defense Council
Overview and video about how
increased atmospheric carbon dioxide makes ocean water more acidic, thus
threatening marine life. The video is narrated by Sigourney Weaver and
features numerous scientists. Includes citations and links to peer-reviewed
scientific articles, as well as a downloadable lab kit for classroom
The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World
Jeff Goodell, Little, Brown and Co., 2017, 352pp.
This terrific and gripping book is an excellent one-stop immersion in many of
the stakes and complexities of sea-level rise, focused on a sampling of key
locations (Florida, Alaska, Venice, New York City, the Pacific Islands,
Norfolk, and Nigeria) but also touching on many other important and telltale
locations and some of the key associated issues (such as tax bases, subsidies,
migration, etc.). A long-time journalist for Rolling Stone, Goodell is
a writer always worth reading.
The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World
Carl Safina. Henry Holt and Co., 2011, 416pp.
Set mostly at the ocean end of Long Island, but also ranging quite far afield,
this eloquent book by biologist Safina is a grounded, concrete, straight-on
look at the state of marine life in multiple contexts, including climate
change, fishing for sport and food, economics, and ethics. With a good brain
operating at full speed well into a distinguished career, Safina delivers
plenty of sobering news in a way that ends up feeling heartening and
energizing. When he writes of hope, it is as "the ability to see how things
could be better," and he reminds us that each of us can search for ways to
heal the world.
Seasick: Ocean Change and the Extinction of Life on Earth
Alanna Mitchell, University of Chicago Press, 2009, 138 pp plus sources.
This is a very readable, very informative survey of what climate change is
already doing to the world's oceans, and what it may well do in the future,
including topics such as acidification, coral bleaching, oxygen availability,
plankton, fish, and more. Science journalist Mitchell visits and talks to
scientists in Australia, the Gulf of Mexico, Puerto Rico, England, Panama,
Nova Scotia, Spain, China, Zanzibar, and the Dry Tortugas. The epilogue, "A
Call for Wisdom," brings together the strand of hopefulness that runs through
the book's bad news.
||articles & essays
Climate Change and the Oceans
Michael Svoboda, Yale Climate Connections, November 2018
If you prefer books to articles or want to supplement your understanding of
what's happening to the world's oceans, take a look at this. Part of Svoboda's
ongoing series collecting books about climate change, it includes descriptions
of a dozen significant books.
Ocean Shock: Uncovering the Planet's Hidden Climate Change
Reuters, October 2018
This multi-part series on what it means for fish, fisheries, and
fish-dependent humans that the ocean's waters are warming is beautifully
produced for online reading and very informative. Reading
About this Project
will help you appreciate the research and creative work that went into its
Uneven Sea-Level Rise
One might think that sea level would rise evenly‒the same number of
inches in Boston as in San Francisco and Bangkok. But it isn't the case.
Factors include the Gulf Stream, El Niño, the gravitational pull of
large bodies of ice, and more. See these two pieces:
Flooding Hot Spots: Why Seas Are Rising Faster on the U.S. East Coast
(Jim Morrison, Yale Environment 360, April 2018) and
Why Our Intuition about Sea-Level Rise Is
Wrong (Daniel Grossman, Nautilus, July 2018).
Letting Nature Help
Though it's easier said than done, we clearly need to figure out how to let
nature itself help us adapt to rising sea levels, whether this means
re-creating shoreline ecosystems to lessen erosion from higher waters and
strong storms or letting coastal ecosystems take over some places where we
have built houses. These two articles tell exemplary stories:
Surrendering to Rising Seas (Jen Schwartz, Scientific
American, August 2018) and
As Seas Rise, Americans Use Nature to Fight Worsening Erosion (John Upton, Climate Central, July 2018).
Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun
Justin Gillis, New York Times, September 2016
A characteristically good piece by this reporter, surveying what is already
happening to our coasts as the sea level rises. The Climate Feedback Project,
which asks scientists to check the facts in articles, has
weighed in on this piece, and the comments are worth a look: they called
its scientific credibility very high.
Soaring Ocean Temperature is 'Greatest Hidden Challenge of our Generation'
Oliver Milman, The Guardian, September 2016
A good introduction to the results of a massive new compilation about the
state of the world's oceans, given how much heat they have already absorbed.
The ramifications are many, and not good: "The scale of ocean warming is truly
staggering with the numbers so large that it is difficult for most people to
study (460 pages, free to download), with expertise from eighty ocean
scientists, overseen by the IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of
Nature), could serve a determined reader as a crash course on the
oceans‒including marine mammals, mangroves, phytoplankton, fish, and
much, much more.
When Will New York City Sink?
Andrew Rice, New York Magazine, September 2016
A well-written, detailed, sobering look at the prospects for this major city
over the next century and more‒along with difficulty in grasping the
flooding that will quite likely (or definitely) happen and the wide-spread
evasion of doing, or even thinking about, what will probably need to be done.
How Climate Change Could Jam the World's Ocean Circulation
Nicola Jones, Yale e360, September 2016
This is a good primer on how the North Atlantic ocean (and heat) circulation
system works, focused on how scientists are currently working to figure out
what might be happening to that critically important system.
'The Blob': How Marine Heatwaves are Causing Unprecedented Climate Chaos
Michael Slezak, The Guardian, August 2016
A marine heatwave‒that is, made of hot salt water, not air? What is
this? And why should we care? Here's a good introduction to this new, or at
least newly noticed, phenomenon, first named in 2011.
Climate Change and Housing: Will a Rising Tide Sink all Homes?
Krishna Rao, Zillow.com, August 2016
An interesting piece from the real estate folks at Zillow, who (using maps
from NOAA) looked into how many houses in the US might be literally under
water by 2100. A chart notes the number of such properties per state, the
fraction they comprise of all housing there, and the total value of these
properties. To bring these numbers to life, see two additional August 2016
pieces about homes that are already flooding: Katherine Bagley's
(in Yale e360) "Thousands of Homes Keep Flooding, Yet They Keep Being Rebuilt
Again" and Virginia Eubanks' personal
essay (in the Nation) about river flooding and climate justice in Troy,
New York, "My Drowning City is a Harbinger of Climate Slums to Come."
For an interesting set of stories about how a few cities are beginning to
cope with sea level rise, see the results of a collaboration among
PRI (Public Radio International), Boston public radio station
WGBH, and the
Ground Truth Project.
Abrupt Sea Level Rise Looms as Increasingly Realistic Threat
Nicola Jones, Environment 360, May 2016
A clear explanation of some recent scientific studies that suggest melting ice
sheets might cause average sea levels to rise by six feet this century alone.
Scientists are Watching in Horror as Ice Collapses
Douglas Fox, National Geographic, April 2016
A vivid story about what happens when ice shelves collapse in Antarctica.
Ocean Acidification, Now Watchable in Real Time
Brian Kahn, Climate Central, February 2015
A brief, interesting account of a new monitoring tool that combines numerous
sources of information (including satellites) about a variety of ocean
conditions to help scientists watch hotspots for such things as stress on
coral reefs. Includes an animation of changes from 2010 to 2014.
Paradise Lost: Dominicans Adapt to Growing Climate Change Threat
Renee Lewis, Al Jazeera America, February 2015
A rich story about how coastal areas in the Dominican Republic are already
being affected by climate change, and what the people there are doing about
these changes‒especially with regard to fisheries and to coastal
flooding. For an update to part of this story, see
The U.S. Has Caused More Global Warming than Any Other Country. Here's How the Earth Will Get Its Revenge.
Chris Mooney, Washington Post, January 2015
Very interesting piece by leading science journalist Mooney, offering more
than the usual kinds of information, on the subject of what kind of sea level
rise the US might see in the future. A hint: the key word is "gravity"...
Union of Concerned Scientists, 2014
Twice a month, tides are especially high‒and especially likely to flood
coastal areas. As the sea level rises, such floods will become significantly
more frequent, serious, disruptive, and expensive. For many locations on the
Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the US, floods that are now occasional will be
chronic by 2030 and incessant by 2045. Along with an explanation of this
coming change, this report offers good thinking about adaptation.
The Disaster We've Wrought on the World's Oceans May Be Irrevocable
Alex Renton, Newsweek, July 2014
A vivid and well-written story about ocean acidification, dead zones,
paleoclimate, and human food supplies.
The Start of the "Sand Wars"
Beth Daley, The New England Center for Investigative Reporting, December 2013
Very good article about the complications involved in protecting the sand of
New England's beaches against rising seas and violent storms.
Tim Folger, National Geographic, September 2013
An excellent article about the sea-level rise that will likely occur during
this century (and the accompanying increased damage from storm surges) and
what might be done to adapt to it, with special attention to New York,
Holland, and Miami. Photos by George Steinmetz and other very good graphics.
Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone, June 2013
A lively and eye-opening account of what's happening in Miami‒and likely
to happen fairly soon‒as the sea rises, storms intensify, and salt water
infiltrates and undermines the limestone bedrock of south Florida. Goodell
focuses on political and management options, including efforts already
underway and various barriers to more effective action. For an update on
Miami's situation from ace climate reporter Elizabeth Kolbert, see her
December 2015 piece in the New Yorker,
The Siege of Miami.
10 Key Findings from a Rapidly Acidifying Arctic Ocean
Julia Whitty, Mother Jones, May 2013
A primer based on the Arctic Ocean Acidification Assessment from the Arctic
Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP).
Click here for the report's Summary for Policy Makers.
Sea Level Rise
Just how much land-based ice is melting, from what places, and contributing
how much to sea level rise? New research sponsored by NASA and published in
Nature helps answer these important questions. For accessible summaries and
links, see the short pieces in
(more accessible) and
(slightly more technical). Part of the answer: between 2003 and 2010, enough
"to cover the entire U.S. with water to a depth of a foot and a half."
How Climate Change Threatens the Seas
Dan Vergano, USA Today, March 2013
A very clear introduction to what CO2 is doing, and will do, to the ocean, and
thus to shell-building creatures like oysters. From the newspaper's 2013
series on climate change, parts of which focus on Americans who are already
being affected, including the Pacific Northwest shellfish growers in this
How High Could the Tide Go?
Justin Gillis, New York Times, January 2013
How high has sea level risen in the past, when CO2 levels were about the same
as they'll be very soon? And how might we figure this out? A scientific team
led by Columbia University scientist Maureen Raymo is working to find and
understand fossil beaches from one such period, the Pliocene, rough three
million years ago. This lively and informative article is part of the
excellent "Temperature Rising" series.
Coastal Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerabilities
U.S. Global Change Research Program, January 2013
For a broad and information-packed view of impacts seen and anticipated around
the US coastline, with topics ranging from real estate to biological stresses,
see this source for part of the draft 2013 National Climate Assessment.
This excellent website focuses on scientific expectations of 2 to 7 more feet
of sea-level rise in the contiguous US during this century‒depending on
how many greenhouse gasses we add to the air. Multiple interactive maps
(including a "risk-finder") offer important details in a user-friendly format;
fact sheets, scientific references, basic explanations, and a 2012 (PDF)
report add more information for anyone concerned that the "odds of 'century'
or worse floods occurring by 2030 are on track to double or more," threatening
the "nearly 5 million people [who live] . . . less than 4 feet above high
tide‒a level lower than the century flood line for most locations
Climate Change and the Oceans
New England Aquarium
Lots of resources here for interested citizens, teachers, and students,