Top 7 Disadvantages of Rising Sea Levels

Top 7 Disadvantages of Rising Sea Levels

Top 7 Disadvantages of Rising Sea Levels

The melting of ice in the Polar Regions and glaciers continues to pose a major threat to us all on a global scale, a whopping 3 millimeters a year. Between 1993 and 2014, sea level rose by about 2.6 inches. Fast forward to 2019, the sea level is 4.2 inches above normal. An increment of 4 inches might not sound alarming but it is certainly very critical when considered on a scale as massive as the entire planet. Below is a list of some of the most dangerous outcomes of the rising sea levels.  

Contamination of Drinking Water

Contamination of Drinking Water - Rising Sea Levels

Given the fact that 71% of the Earth’s surface is water-covered, one of the biggest crisis that humans and other beings on Earth would face is the contamination of drinking water. Rising sea levels mean the surge of the saltwater to farther inland areas which would ultimately contaminate the sources of drinking water. Saltwater is extremely unsafe for humans and its consumption can lead to a number of dangerous outcomes. While it is possible to desalinate water, the process is rather expensive and time consuming to be used on a large scale.

Impact on Vital Resources

Impact on Vital Resources - Rising Sea Levels

The contamination of freshwater sources, following a global rise in sea levels, is simply disastrous for irrigation and farming. This detrimental pattern will eventually lead us to a food crisis because the cost of seawater desalination is a bit too much to make it a sustainable practice. Not only will it affect the growing of crops, but it will also cut off a major portion of food supply by destroying the industry of farm animals.

Negative Effects on Weather

Negative Effects on Weather - Rising Sea Levels

Sea level is directly connected to climate change. Higher sea levels are coinciding with more dangerous hurricanes and typhoons that move more slowly and drop more rain, contributing to more powerful storm surges that can strip away everything in their path. The probability of flooding is directly proportional to the melting of glaciers. We have already observed that quite a lot of people, living in low-lying coastal areas, are forced to migrate to higher grounds and millions more are vulnerable from flood risk and other climate change effects.

Erosion of Beaches

Erosion of Beaches - Rising Sea Levels

Among the harmful impacts of rising sea levels, beach erosion is right up there among the most important issues. It is already a widespread problem all over the world as many countries are suffering from this problem. Sandy beaches have multiple functions; they are not only places for recreation, but also work as a natural breakwater to protect inland areas. If sandy beaches disappear, waves and storm surges could impact higher areas along the coastline. This will force us to strengthen and reinforce our defensive seawalls (both existing and new ones) to counter these disasters.

Impact on Coastal Ecosystems

Coasts are well endowed with ecosystems such as salt marshes, tidal flats, and mangroves. They are considered to experience the adverse effects of rising sea levels as they face lack of sediment supply from land, and lack of hinterland for migration. The coastal ecosystem will continue to drop into chaos if we don’t stop this destructive process from stripping away the vital resources. Coastal regions are already developed for human activities (which is a massive problem in itself) and it may not be possible for the species living there to migrate inland.

Island Nations

There are several low-lying islands in the oceans that may be wiped out entirely as the rising water swallows them whole. Maldives, Tuvalu, and other low-lying countries are among the areas that are at the highest level of risk. At current rates, sea level would be high enough to make the Maldives uninhabitable by 2100. Similarly, most small islands already have high burdens of climate-sensitive diseases such as food and water-borne diseases like malaria, dengue, and diarrheal disease. Rising sea levels will exacerbate this disease burden with an expected increase in illnesses and deaths. In addition to that, it will threaten the access to safe food supplies, clean water, and sanitation.

Changing Coastlines

Sea level rise will ultimately reshape coastlines because increased quantities of incoming water will flood dry areas and erode coastal features like beaches, cliffs, and dunes. This concept is already well-known to humanity as massive storms (Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac) have clearly shown what they are capable of. When waves manage to reach further inland, they can inundate wetlands and kill the marsh grass that holds the sediment in place. Without grass as an anchor, sediment and mud can be pulled to sea or pushed further inland.

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