What if the sea level rises by 1 meter?

Published on Jul 30, 2022

You might have heard about rising temperatures, glaciers melting in the Arctic & Antarctica and sea levels rising because of the glacier melt. The melting of ice has been so rapid in the recent past with the reports emerging that the ice melted in Greenland in the last week could cover the entire West Virginia by 1 foot. But do you think this is ever going to hurt us economically? Our common sense might say “Not At All”, but the world is a lot more complicated than we think it is.

So, here comes the question. What will happen if the Arctic ice melts?

Naturally, the water level rises. But isn’t the Earth too big to accommodate water from a melting ice sheet? Yes & No. Yes, because of the sheer size of the volume of the ocean and unreachable sky heights. No, because we are not used to it. Imagine living in a 23 feet swimming pool all day long. That’s what would happen if the whole ice in Greenland melts! NASA also says that with the mass distribution among the landscape changing, the earth might rotate slower than before.

And this melt isn’t happening all of a sudden. Average sea levels have risen over 23cm from 1900. This sea-level rise is not just due to Arctic or Antarctic ice melting. It is also contributed by the glacier melt in the mountain ranges like the Himalayas, causing excess water to join the oceans.

You might wonder now, why is this ice melting?

If you’re one of those, it is due to global warming (the activities which we do have contributed to releasing excess CO2 and other gases, which capture more sun’s heat, thus increasing those temperatures). Even the recent IPCC report warns, in fact, it predicts much more adverse events than we could think of.

So, what are the consequences of this melting? Can’t we just move away from the coasts?

As I said, our Earth is more complicated and wonderfully linked than we think. It is not a mere combination of water and oxygen that life has been possible on Earth.

Interestingly, low-lying coastal regions support 30% of the global population. So, how do we arrange resources for such a high number?

Higher sea levels imply more cyclones which are not just devastating but also cause flooding. Such flooding damages the groundwater and the soils with excessive salts. And with glaciers melting, there have been huge river floods, one which remains in our memory is the Himalayan Tsunami.

Can you imagine yourself without a network or internet for two or more days? This is what happened when cyclone Vardah hit Chennai in 2016. The network cables are usually placed undersea. The cables damaged by the cyclone caused inconvenience across various parts of India. There were parts of Tamil Nadu which had a power shortage extending for two weeks.

So, whenever we think that what could 1 meter rise in sea level would do, we’ll have to look at the size of the bowl, which spans over 317million Kms.

And back to the original question, what will a 1m increase in sea level do? We’ll just leave it to your imagination ;)

Written by Zodhya

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