Sea Level and the Location of a Coast
Sea level is the average level of the earth’s oceans and it is used to measure heights in the same manner elevations are measured. The mean sea level is a geodetic point of reference which is where the sea rests when there are no tides, currents, atmospheric effects and variations of water density. If there was no movement of the oceans, there would be no wind or tides. Consequently, there would be no changes in the sea surface.
Due to wind driven and tide changes, sea levels are always constantly fluctuating. It is therefore essential for the mean sea level to be calculated at given locations over a couple of years. There are several factors that affect sea levels and they can have varied geographical time scales. Careful measurements in the variations of mean sea levels offers information regarding climate change and is interpreted as evidence to support the view that current sea level rise is an indication of global warming. Sea level changes that are as a result of wind driven and tidal changes are referred to as eustatic changes. Since the start of the 20th century, there has been sea level changes noted globally which average 2.0 millimetres per year. The Environmental Protection Agency carried out a study which indicates the sea level rise is still expected to rise another twenty centimeters by the year 2100.
Some of the known factors that affect rise of sea level include carbon levels, thermal expansion, melting ice sheets and earth tilt. In cases of earth tilt, large tilts result to more sun at poles. Rise in sea level affects low lying areas that are along coasts. This will include barrier islands as well as river deltas.
Eustatic variation causes
Such sea level rises are the result of external forces. A large majority of experts are in agreement the current sea level rise noted globally is as a result of global warming induced by humans. There are three major factors that cause sea level and coast location changes and they include:
- Nonpolar melting of glaciers
- Thermal ocean expansion
- Change in ice caps volume of Greenland and Antarctica
As the climate gets warmer globally, the ocean sea level is also gradually increasing since warm water occupies a large volume. Also, due to the warm climate, nonglaciers and mountains are also melting further adding to the oceans volume. Rise in sea levels has great impacts on coastal regions. While it might not necessarily affect storm intensity, the coastal regions become vulnerable to storms.
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