Sea level rise is increasing the frequency of severe weather events such as floods, droughts and wildfires, in part because of global warming. Studies of ice cores taken from deep ocean waters indicate that since 1800, average sea levels have risen by more than 60 inches and the world’s oceans are now up to seven to 12 inches higher than they were a century ago. At current rates of increase, scientists predict that sea levels could rise by 25 to 60 inches by 2100, causing widespread inundation of low-lying coastal areas.
Lower Seas are Overflowing: An earlier study showed that by the mid-1900s, approximately 140 gigatons of CO2 (carbon dioxide) were being released each year into the atmosphere. By 2010, this figure had risen to 1,750 gigatons of CO2 per year, and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that by the year 2100 CO2 emissions will be up to 6,000 gigatons per year – enough to exceed the previous recorded pre-industrial level of 5,800 gigatons of CO2.
Gannets are Dying: The Gannet population has decreased by 30 percent since the early 1970s. Declines have occurred in key southern breeding colonies and have been especially severe in populations in the so-called “Eye of the Storm.” These colonies are well protected, since nesting gannets are voracious predators of brown pelicans, one of the primary fish-eating birds in the East Coast’s waters.
Seashell Pollution: Global warming is due to greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels, but already has caused much of the climate to warm at the poles and reaches into the tropics. Increasing levels of the sea’s acidification also threaten shellfish and seaweed. The regional dynamics in the Pacific have caused other problems, as well. Hot summer temperatures with an accompanying bout of drought have resulted in declining wild salmon populations along the West Coast. An increase in invasive parasitic species has caused broader ecological impacts, not only in fishing and crabbing but also in many coastal ecosystems.