What if the sea level rises

Climate change raises the levels The sea level is rising


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As climate change melts the ice in the polar regions, sea levels are rising. And that faster and faster. The consequences are devastating.

Status: 11/06/2020

Climate change is causing the ice in the polar regions to melt faster and faster and the seas to swell: In the 20th century, the sea level rose by 15 centimeters worldwide, or around 1.5 millimeters per year. In the meantime, however, the level is rising more than twice as fast:

According to the latest special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in September 2019, the sea level rises about 3.6 millimeters per year. By 2100, the sea level could rise by 30 to 60 centimeters, even if greenhouse gas emissions are greatly reduced and global warming ceases is limited to two degrees. It could even rise by more than a meter if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

In a brochure published at the end of 2019, the German Climate Consortium e. V. and Consortium German Marine Research e. V. summarizes the current state of knowledge on sea level rise. They anticipate an increase of 43 to 84 centimeters by the end of the century. And what is even more important: After that, it doesn't just stop:

"It is important to know that even after emissions stop, sea levels will continue to rise for several centuries, which is due to the inertia of the climate system. Our actions today will therefore have consequences well into the future."

German climate consortium

Sea level rise is accelerating

A research group led by Steve Nerem from the University of Colorado in Boulder found out in February 2018 that sea level rise is accelerating: every year the sea level rises 0.08 millimeters faster than before. According to this, the increase in the year 2100 could already be ten millimeters per year. The average level on the coasts could then be 65 centimeters higher than in 2005. "The study shows very credibly that there is an acceleration of the increase," judges Ingo Sasgen from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven. The researchers not only used new measurement data, but also evaluated them very thoroughly.

Extreme models calculate an increase of up to 1.70 meters

Various studies in recent years predict a sea level rise of between 30 centimeters and more than one and a half meters by the end of this century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in 2014 that sea levels could rise by up to 82 centimeters by 2100. Ingo Sasgen explains that German coastal protection is expected to rise by up to 1.70 meters with extreme values ​​that were assumed.

Flood disasters and climate refugees

Maldives: an island nation that doesn't want to drown

If the two large freshwater reservoirs of the earth melt at the poles, there is a risk of flood disasters worldwide. Low-lying regions such as Bangladesh could be completely flooded. But the flat coastal regions of Poland are also at risk. The tropical islands, which are often flat, are particularly threatened - such as the island state of Maldives or the Tuvalu island chain, whose residents applied for climate asylum in Australia (but were not granted it). In January 2020, the United Nations Human Rights Committee decided that climate refugees must also be granted the right to asylum. Long before that, in November 2005, 980 people were resettled from the Carteret Islands (Papua New Guinea) to islands 100 kilometers away - the first climate refugees. Far away?

The rising sea level is also gnawing at Germany

The rise in sea levels can also be felt on Sylt

The rising water levels do not stop at German coasts either: the island of Sylt already has to dredge up fresh sand every year because the floods literally carry away the island. As a result, the coastline of Sylt could largely be preserved, but in other places the tidal flat landscape is heavily influenced by rising sea levels, said Johannes Oelerich, the department head in the Schleswig-Holstein Ministry of the Environment in an interview with the NDR in February 2020.

"2100 more mud flats will be constantly flooded than today."

Johannes Oelerich, head of department in the Schleswig-Holstein Ministry of the Environment

The WWF also warned: "On the North Sea coast, the rise in sea level endangers people just as much as the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site," explains Jannes Fröhlich, climate adaptation and coastal protection expert at WWF, in February 2018. "Because if it rises too quickly and too much, large parts of the sea will sink Wadden Sea permanently below the surface of the water. Then mud flats disappear just like breeding grounds for shorebirds or seal banks. "

But not only are the levels of the world's oceans rising, the quality of the oceans is also changing as a result of climate change. Worldwide, the ocean ecosystem is unbalanced because, for example, the salt content of the water is decreasing, there is a lack of oxygen and the water is becoming more acidic.

  • Caribbean - Coral Rescue and Climate Change. Weltspiegel report, November 17 at 3:50 p.m., ARD-alpha
  • Rising levels - sea level rise: nano, 02/13/2020, 4:00 p.m., ARD-alpha
  • Kiribati - an island state in decline: latitude, 11/30/2019, 2:05 p.m., Bavaria 2
  • Climate Change - How the Pacific Swallowed Paradise. alpha democracy worldwide, October 5th, 2018 at 7:30 p.m., ARD-alpha
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