Explore a range of social, economic and environmental impacts of climate change worldwide such as those resulting from sea level rise and extreme weather events. The impacts studied should relate to the 21st century
Sea level rise
Two major mechanisms are causing sea level to rise. First, shrinking land ice, such as mountain glaciers and polar ice sheets, is releasing water into the oceans. Second, as ocean temperatures rise, the warmer water expands.
The consequences of sea level rise include:
- Threats to coastal communities. Some 40 percent of the world’s population lives within 62 miles (100 kilometres) of the ocean, putting millions of lives and billions of dollars’ worth of property and infrastructure at risk.
- High tides and storm surges riding on ever-higher seas are more dangerous to people and coastal infrastructure.
- Natural protections against damaging storm surges are increasingly threatened. Barrier islands, beaches, sand dunes, salt marshes, mangrove stands, and mud and sand flats retreat inland as sea level rises, unless there are obstructions along the retreat path. If they cannot move, these natural protections are washed over or drowned.
- Many shorelines have sea walls, jetties, and other artificial defences to protect roads, buildings, and other vital coastal resources. In these areas, sea-level rise increases erosion of stranded beaches, wetlands, and engineered structures.
- As coastal areas flood, environmental refugees will need to seek new homes, potentially in different countries (many island countries are under threat)
- Coral reefs will be lost, resulting in a loss of habitat.
- Saltwater intrusion. Sea-level rise can mean that saltwater intrudes into groundwater drinking supplies, contaminates irrigation supplies, or overruns agricultural fields. Low-lying, gently sloping coastal areas are particularly vulnerable to contamination of freshwater supplies.
Impact on weather
Although extreme weather event, such as hurricanes, have always happened, scientists report that extreme weather events are occurring more frequently and are becoming more intense. This websites gives some details of extreme weather events in the 21st century.