How High Will Sea Levels Rise?



Question Posed
Method of Study
Initial Considerations & Possible Sea Level Increases


Question Posed:

How will Global Warming and the possible resulting Sea Level rise effect New Jersey?

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Method of Study:

1. Research possible Sea Level rises.

2. Apply to topographical maps of New Jersey.

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Initial Considerations & Possible Sea Level Increases:

1. New Jersey elevations range from 0 feet (Sea Level, or the Geoid) along the Atlantic Coast to High Point (1,803 feet) in Sussex County. The displayed map shows elevation contours for the whole State, but only in 100 foot increments.

2. There are various possible causes of Sea Level rising:

a. Global Warming will warm the ocean water and cause it to expand, raising Sea Level, according to the International Panel on Climate Changes 1995 report, by 15 cm (6 inches) to 95 cm (37 inches) during the 21st Century.

b. Global warming may melt the ice caps and glaciers.

- If the North Polar cap melts it will have almost no effect, since that ice already floats on the polar ocean, displacing its weight and already effecting the Sea Level.

- If the Greenland ice field melts, it will add 7 meters (20 feet) to Sea Level. All other glaciers combined would cause a very small rise.

- If the South Polar Ice Cap melts, it will add 61 meters (200 feet) to Sea Level.  The current melting of the Antarctica ice shelves, since they already rest on the ocean, will not have a major effect, but may indicate a general warming of the southern pole.

c. The US EPA forecasts a 1.5 meter (5 feet) to 3.5 meter (10 feet) rise in sea level over the 21st Century.

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The displayed map is marked to show the possible effect of various Sea Level rises within the range shown by researching the question, from 10 feet to 100 feet.

The ten foot rise represents just the effect of expanded warm ocean water and some glacier melting. It would inundate the NJ shore.  The two hundred foot rise represents a complete melt down of the ice caps.  All of NJ would be under water except for Atlantic Highlands, a few hills in Essex and Bergen, and the NW corner of the State.  Since the end of the last Ice Age Sea Level has risen 400 feet, drowning much of the continental shelf.

Even a small rise in Sea Level will have great impact on New Jersey, possibly destroying the current coast line and the barrier islands. A larger increase in Sea Level would have catastrophic effects on New Jersey and the entire world.

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Elevation maps of NJ,
Physiographic Provinces of New Jersey,
NJ DEP Geographic Information System,

Drew Fucetola, drewport.htm
March 16, 2001


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Posted on the Internet through LifeSpirit Center
ã 2001, 2003