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The Oceans

According to NASA global sea level rose about 20 cm in the last century. The rate in the last two decades, however, is nearly double that of the last century and accelerating slightly every year.

NASA also point out the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30% since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. This increase is due to the absorption of the additional and increasing CO2 being emitted as a result of human behaviour.

On this page I'm going to look at examples of the evidence of climate chamnge that can be found in our oceans and seas.

Sea Levels Rising

There are two principal causes of sea livel rise. One is the melting of ice from ice sheets and glaciers. The other is the warming of seawater.

Satellite data from 1993 to the present day shows an increase of about 104mm in sea height to date. These data are shown in the chart.

You can find out more about the data - and an alternative set based partly on coastal tidal gauge data - here. You can also access NASA's sea level data from a link on the same page.

Ocean Acidification

Particularly stark evidence of the effects of climate change is presented by our coral reefs. Warming of the sea is increasing the incidence of coral bleaching and of the occurence of disease outbreaks.

The condition of coral reefs is also generally deteriorating due to reduced calcification rates resulting from decreases in the pH of seawater. This decrease is called ocean acidification, explained here by the NOAA.

Coral reef

Oceans News

April 2023: Miami and New Orleans face greater sea-level threat than already feared

Coastal cities in the southern USA, including Miami, Houston and New Orleans, are in even greater danger from sea-level rise than already feared, according to this article.

A paper referrenced in the article reports a dramatic surge in ocean levels of almost 5in (12.7cm) along the US south-eastern and Gulf of Mexico coastline since 2010.

February 2023: António Guterres warning

At a speech in New York on 9 Feb 2023 UN Secretary General António Guterres told the audience that rising seas are a serious threat requiring a coordinated global response at the highest levels. He said that with 900 million people at risk, sea level rise could drive “a mass exodus of entire populations on a biblical scale”. 900 million people represent over 10% of the world's population, and such an impact could threaten world peace.

You can find out more about his speech here.