Sea Level Rise

Sea level rise is only one effect of global climate change, but it is the effect that is having a great deal of impact here in Pinellas county and in coastal areas around the world. The following exercise will help you to understand the problems associated with sea level rise.

Go to the website and answer the following questions.

Questions are worth 2 points each for 40 points total Please remember to put your answers on the answer sheet and just submit that sheet.

Answer following questions from the reading on the web site.

  • What effect does sea level rise have on storm surges?


  • Of the 10 largest cities in the world how many are near the coast?


  • What are the two causes of sea level rise?


  • What percent of the atmospheric heat generated by humans are the oceans absorbing?


On the right-hand side of the web page under “More Information” click on the “Global Sea Level Rise (Ocean Today Video)” link and watch the video.


  • What controls local sea level?


  • What is the average global rise in sea level in mm?


  • How fast is sea level rising in Louisiana?


  • Why is it so fast there?


Return to the main page and click on “Sea level rise viewer” (on the right), click on “launch” and click on “get started”.  This should bring up a map of the United States. You can use your scroll wheel or the + and – icons on the bottom right to zoom and you can drag and center the map with your mouse or track pad.


Let’s begin by zooming in on Miami Beach on the East Coast. Focus on the south end of the island that is Miami Beach (Say from Lincoln Road Mall South. Use the slide on the right-hand side to raise sea level 3 feet


  • Estimate the percentage of Miami Beach beach that just flooded.


  • Now raise sea level 6 feet. Describe what Miami Beach Island looks like now.


  • Did the island flood from the Atlantic Ocean side or the “back “side”?


  • With sea level at 6 feet zoom out so you can see the mainland how would you describe the mainland inland flooding with 6 feet of sea level rise?


St Pete Beach spends a lot of money on beach nourishment, sea walls and a lot of hard stabilization structures. Go to St Pete Beach and raise sea level 3 feet.


  • What happens to the neighborhoods of St Pete Beach?


  • Now raise Sea level 6 feet and describe what you see.



Ok so maybe we just need walls all around our coastal cities. So let’s go to . . .  you guessed it. New Orleans.  Take sea level back to normal and go to New Orleans.

One thing this map doesn’t really show well is that the area south of New Orleans isn’t really under water it’s just low-lying marsh. The yellow lines you see around New Orleans are walls and levies meant to protect the city.


  • Raise sea level 3 feet and look at New Orleans; it’s not flooded, do you think it will stay that way?


Let’s look a little more carefully at the marshland. On the left click the Marsh Migration tool. Now all the marshland is colored.  Zoom out a little bit if you need to and click on the icon to the south of New Orleans that is Grand Isle LA.  That will open a panel on the left side of the screen. At the top of that panel make sure the accretion rate is set to “No Accretion”. Also, at the top click “View by Scenario” and set the slider to the right of the panel to “Intermediate”.  So we’ve set up a very “moderate” model for flooding of the Mississippi river delta as sea level rises.


  • Under this scenario how much sea level rise are they expecting in 2100?



  • Keeping sea level at the 2100 level zoom out and look at the coastline of Louisiana. How do you think a hurricane would affect this area under these conditions?


  • Accretion refers to sediment added the area when the Mississippi river floods. change the accretion to 6mm per year. Do you get more or less local sea level rise by 2100? (As long as you’re here do a screen capture, you’ll need it for question 20.)


  • Given that accretion happens when the Mississippi river floods, what affect do you think building levies along the Mississippi River has on local sea level rise?


  • Submit a screen capture of New Orleans with the setting of the last model you did. (question 18)



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