If you’re skeptical about man-made climate change, the Union of Concerned Scientists wants you to know something: there’s no basis for your belief in science. The long-standing group, which counts more than 200,000 citizens and professionals as members, is as categorical as it can be. Global warming is happening, and our emissions are largely responsible. (It is also quite clear about where “misinformation” on the topic comes from.) In this infographic, it lays out how global warming leads to sea level rise, which U.S. cities are likely to be affected, and what we can do about it.
Data from more than a century ago shows that ocean levels have been rising faster on East Coast and Gulf regions, with cities like Galveston, Texas, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, most affected. Variances come from local land subsidence (which allows water to penetrate further inland) and “changes in the path and strength of ocean currents.”
Warmer temperatures cause water to expand, and ice to melt–both raising ocean levels. Ice melt accounts for more than half of increases between 1972 and 2008.
The rate of sea level rise is increasing. How high the water goes will depend on the level of emissions and the unpredictable reactions of oceans and ice.
Future sea levels are a choice, relating to our emissions of heat-trapping gases. But we’ll also have to make changes to vulnerable coastlines, building natural buffers, and managing retreat from prone areas.