February 20, 2014

I had multiple comments from Shanghai students today asking me about rising sea levels. It appears that you have been assigned a report on this topic and are asking me to explain it for you. Unfortunately, I can’t do your homework for you, and if every student wrote to me every night about a topic they needed to learn about, I would spend all my time answering their questions and would not have any time to write books! However, you can use my website to help with your research on future assignments. One way is to look at the yellow bar called "Labels" (on the left hand side of every blog page). If you click on any of those topics, it will take you to a list of previous articles that I have written about the topic. You can also type a key word (for example: "sea level") in the Search box which is at the top of every page on my website, and you may find useful articles that way.

Since you are all asking about a topic that many students wonder about, I am going to make an exception to my rule and write about this important topic today. As the temperature of the Earth warms and the polar ice melts, our sea level is rising worldwide. Over the past 20 years our oceans have been rising by about 0.13 inches (3.2 millimeters) a year, which is about twice the average speed of the preceding 80 years. 

The reason this is increasing so much more quickly is that for the past 100 years our use of fossil fuels and other human activities have released enormous amounts of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. These emissions have caused the Earth’s surface temperature to rise, and the oceans absorb about 80 percent of this additional heat. 

This is causing previously unknown levels of flooding in coastal cities. From the many monsoons which flood Chittagong in Bangladesh, to the effects of cyclone Haiyan in Tacloban, Philippines, to the millions of people affected by flooding from Hurricane Sandy in New York City, people in coastal cities and villages worldwide are experiencing the real effect of global warming on rising sea levels.

I have written quite a bit about global warming on this blog. Check the label "global warming" to learn more about this important topic.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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