See the US With an Ocean That's 10-Feet Higher
Zoom in and you can see what a 10-foot sea-level rise looks like in the Boston area.
John Hyde/Design Pics/Corbis
The effects of global warming are frequently projected decades into the future, but two recent reports -- one from theU.S. Global Change Research Program
and the otherfrom the U.N.
-- put into sharp focus visible consequences of our warming planet. An increase in temperature, extreme weather, loss of ice and rising sea level are just a few of changes we can measure right now. Let's take a look at some of the most concerning trends.BLOG: War Of The Words: Climate Change Or Global Warming?
Glaciers are shrinking worldwide and permafrost is thawing in high-latitude and high-elevation areas, reports this year's Fifth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.BLOG: Dire Outlook For Climate Impacts, New Report Says
Only a few extinctions are attributed to climate change, reports the IPCC, but climate change that occurred much more slowly, over millions of years, caused major ecosystem shifts and species extinctions. Land and sea animals are changing their geographic ranges and migratory patterns due to climate change.NEWS: Climate Change: Why Haven't We Done More?
Sea level around the world has increased by about 8 inches since 1880, reports the 2014 National Climate Assessment, which projects a 1 to 4 foot rise by the end of the century.PHOTOS: Craziest Environmental Ideas (That Could Work)
Massimo Brega/The Lighthouse//Vi/Visuals Unlimited/Corbis
Excess CO2 is dissolving in the ocean and decreasing the pH of seawater. The ocean is about 30 percent more acidic than it was in pre-industrial times. More acidity in the oceans makes it harder for animals to form calcium carbonate shells and skeletons and erodes coral reefs.11 Health Threats from Climate Change
The probability of a Sandy-like storm deluging New York, New Jersey and other parts of the East Coast has nearly doubled compared to 1950, according to the American Meteorological Society. Even weaker storms will be more damaging now than they were 10 years ago because of rising sea levels. Superstorm Sandy cost the nation $65 billion, according to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, and 2012's Hurricane Isaac cost $2.3 billion.
The global sea level rises along with the temperature for two major reasons. For one, heat causes water to expand, which causes the existing water to take up more space and encroach on the coast. At the same time, ice at the poles and in glaciers melts and increases the amount of water in the oceans.PHOTOS: Melting Glaciers
Across the United States, heavy downpours are on the rise, especially in the Northeast and Midwest. Increases in extreme precipitation are expected for all U.S. regions, reports the 2014 National Climate Assessment.NEWS: Shrinking Greenland Glacier Smashes Speed Record
Ted Soqui/Ted Soqui Photography/Corbis
The most recent IPCC report states with "very high confidence" that current climate-related extremes like heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones and wildfires are showing that countries around the world, at all development levels, are significantly unprepared. The American Meteorological Society estimates that approximately 35 percent of the extreme heat in the eastern United States between March and May 2012 resulted from human activities' effects on climate. The AMS warned that deadly heat waves will become four times more likely in the north-central and northeastern United States as the planet continues to warm.NASA: Global Warming Goes On
This week a gradual -- but unstoppable -- sea-level rise of 10 feet or more was predicted by multiple studies, based on observations of warming in West Antarctica. But what does that look like? A new interactive map shows the effect of a 10-foot sea level rise on U.S. coastal areas.
Want to see how your favorite beachside town or, say, Fort Lauderdale fares? Enter your zip code and find out. (Spoiler alert: Miami and Boston do not look good.)
The map is based on 2012 research by the organization Climate Central, which examined the projected sea-level rise on every coastal city, county and state in the contiguous United States. If the ocean is 10 feet higher, the researchers project that 28,800 square miles of land would be affected, where 12.3 million people currently live.
In 40 large cities, the researchers say, more than half of the land area falls less than 10 feet below the high-tide line. Virginia Beach and Miami would be two of the hardest hit. Hoboken, N.J., would be the least affected.
More than half of those 40 cities are in Florida, says Climate Central, where 85 percent of all existing housing falls below the critical high-tide line.
Despite the dire outlook for Florida, it's New York that could be most threatened over time. About 700,000 people there live in low-lying areas, the researchers report. And a 10-foot sea-level rise would put swaths of every state in New England at risk.