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This very useful video shows the effects of sea-level rise on Northern Europe and the UK at regular 10m intervals. For your exam you should describe how the flood water may rise and which areas of the UK will be effected at 10, 20 and 30m etc.

http://climate.jpl.nasa.gov/ClimateTimeMachine/climateTimeMachine.swf - Awesome animation - showing sea-level rises in Northern Europe, Southeast United States, Amazon Delta and Southeast Asia

The causes of sea-level rise:

One of the effects of global warming is sea-level rise. Over the last 15 years, global average sea levels have risen by 3mm a year. The latest estimate from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest a rise in global sea levels of between 28 and 43 cm by the end of the century.

The main cause of sea-level rise is thermal expansion of seawater as it absorbs more heat from the atmosphere. Also the melting of ice on land e.g. from Greenland and will increase the level of the oceans.

The actual amount of sea-level rise will vary from place to place due to variations in the level of the land and the amount of deposition of sediment occurring at the coast.

The effects of sea-level rises:

In the UK, East Anglia is likely to be hardest hit and this threatens coastal defences and natural ecosystems. Elsewhere in the world, vast areas of low-lying coastal plains such as Bangladesh and whole chains of islands such as the Maldives and Tuvalu could disappear. More than 70% of the world's population live on coastal plains so the effects of sea-level rises are going to be devastating.
The effects of sea-level rise in Norfolk:
  • Settlements such as King's Lynn may be under threat as sea levels rise.
  • Valuable agricultural land (the Fens) will be at greater risk of flooding
  • The Norfolk Broads are a popular tourit destination bringing £5 million+ to the local area
  • As sea levels rise, erosion rates are likely to increase, threatening coastal settlements such as Overstand and Happisburgh. Current sea defences will need strengthening, which will be expensive
  • In 1953 East Anglia suffered terribly from a storm surge, which killed 300 people. People are worried that such an event may occur again
  • The Thames Barrier currently protects buildings worth £80 billion. It will probably need to be replaced in the next 30 to 50 years,
  • As sea levels rise, large areas of the Lower Thames estuary will be at risk from flooding, affecting housing, industry and farmland
  • Low-lying mudflats and marshes in Essex are particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise.
  • Areas of salt marsh are being squeezed between sea walls and rising sea
  • Some 22% of East Anglia's salt marshes could be lost by 2050
  • In some places, managed retreat (a controversial political decision) will breach sea walls to allow deliberate flooding so that salt marshes can reform
Carteret Islands of Papua New Guinea


A video from Greenpeace but still very useful in showing the effects of sea-level rise on Carteret Islands of Papua New Guinea. Overall the effects can be summariesed as follows:
  • Loss of homes
  • Loss of land for growing crops and rearing animals which could result in starvation
  • As the sea-level rises the fresh water table becomes contaminated resulting in a reduction of fresh water - dehydration
  • Loss of indigenous cultures
  • Coral reefs die due to changes in sea-level