So, here is the (late?) great state of Florida flooded by a 5-meter rise in sea level (dark blue) and a 10-meter rise (light blue). Yes, far in the future, but not beyond imagination should, for example, the Greenland ice sheet completely melt back. Miami is gone, Tampa is gone...At what cost? When you take a look at a map of elevations around Miami, for example, you find that much development has occurred at heights above sea level of only 1 meter or so (see next chapter). Amazing! Could we ever do anything to save this region--short of building an elaborate set of dikes (like those protecting New Orleans today!) or somehow reversing the effects of global warming? What's going to happen to the folks in Holland?
Sea level changes on a global, as well as local, basis because of a number of factors. We are presently most concerned with rising sea level that results primarily from warming of seawater (why?), melting of continental glaciers and ice sheets (but not sea ice. Why?). How do we know that sea level has changed in the past, and how do we monitor sea level change at present?
Time to delve into something you've certainly seen in the news -- the well-known IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Report. This section of Working Group 1 discusses sea level change related to climate change. This is a "consensus" report from numerous scientists--experts in their fields. We're going to look mainly at the most recent Report (Fifth Assessment Report, AR5; 2013) and you might also want to look briefly at the 2007 IPCC Report.
You will read Sections of Chapter 13, including the Executive Summary and Section 13.1 on Sea Level. You should also scan over other parts of Chapter 13, to get a sense of the overall content. This will provide an essential background in preparation for the first activity, so read carefully and make sure you understand the data, techniques and concepts. Feel free to post comments/questions below to the class with questions if there is something you do not understand.
When you are finished reading, you will go on to the next part in this Lesson to begin Activity 1.