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Rising Sea Levels: A Change for Worse

Research for this article was done by Joy Kim.

Cities in jeopardy of sinking: sounds terrifying and is terrifying. A rise in sea levels is one of the most worrisome aftermaths of climate change. Research shows that by 2050, it is predicted that more than 570 cities are at risk of sinking more than half a meter due to rising sea levels, and that is equivalent to 800 million human lives at stake. Many countries are making an effort to build necessary preparations and preventions for their own nations, however, up to date, there are no suitable solutions to slow down climate change to delay the rise of the sea.

Glaciers: a landform of dense ice. Ice that can melt when exposed to increasingly high temperatures from global warming. As mentioned above, the melting of glaciers pose a huge threat to rising sea levels. As our Earth’s temperature increases, glaciers and ice sheets worldwide are melting and adding more water to the oceans which contributes to higher sea levels.

How fast do glaciers melt? Since 1961, more than 10 trillion tons of glaciers / ice / snow have melted around the world, and if you do the math, it’s about 390 billion tons that melts every year. This is enough for the ocean to rise above an inch. To give an example, all US States sunk over 4 inches in the span of 50 years. Mountains are also affected, such as the Alps, as it lost almost the entirety of its glaciers.

Let’s discuss Venice, a city that could face the peril of sinking. This aquatic and floating city is constantly flooding, and previously there was a solution with the name of MOSE. The purpose was creating a wall that could be erected to stop water from flooding in. Unfortunately, the major issue was that it was too short and was built to handle approximately 1 meter of sea-level rise, which definitely wasn’t enough, considering the acceleration of climate change and more glaciers and ice sheets melting.

Despite all the negativity, there was a very successful project built between 1991-1997 in the Netherlands, called the ‘Maeslantkering’, or Maeslant Barrier. It serves as a dam with two gigantic barrier doors flanked at each side, which are like floating pontoons. They will fill and soak up the water, then sink due to the weight. This then forms the barrier. It was specifically built in Rotterdam as it was a very vulnerable part in the Netherlands because it was prone to sinking.

In closing, our planet Earth is in sheer danger of lands and houses sinking down to aquatic bodies, and we need to find more answers and solutions to prevent this catastrophe from happening, no matter how difficult it would be.




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