Magazine article Geographical

Danger on the High Seas: Dr Mark Spalding Highlights the Threat of Rising Seas -- the Potentially Devastating and Likely Impact of a Global Temperature Rise on the World's Oceans. (Climate)

Magazine article Geographical

Danger on the High Seas: Dr Mark Spalding Highlights the Threat of Rising Seas -- the Potentially Devastating and Likely Impact of a Global Temperature Rise on the World's Oceans. (Climate)

Article excerpt

Over the last 100 years, sea levels around the world have risen by about 18 centimetres. In certain parts, slow rises or falls in the Earth's crust may mask or exaggerate this change, but the fact of sea-level rise is now well documented.

The oceans cover seven-tenths of the planet with an average depth of over 3.7 kilometres, Imagine what it takes to make a perceptible difference to either the depth or temperature of that amount of water. As air temperatures rise so the oceans are warming, and as water warms so it expands. This 'thermal expansion' has driven about 75 per cent of the rise in sea level to date. The rest has come from ice-melt, notably from the Antarctic, but also the rapid loss of glacial ice around the world.

Sea levels have risen before, but then human civilisation was not a factor. Now we live in an overcrowded planet, and 39 per cent of the world's population live within 100 kilometres of the coast.

Many of those most at threat are in the developing world. …

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