Key Idea Coastal areas are at increasing risk from sea-level rise, storm surge, and other climate-related stresses. Global sea level is rising due to the warming-induced expansion of ocean water, accelerated melting of most of the world's glaciers, and loss of ice from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Further warming will cause further sea-level rise over this century and beyond.
Rising sea level is already eroding shorelines, drowning wetlands, and threatening homes, businesses, and infrastructure. The destructive potential of Atlantic hurricanes has increased in recent decades in association with increasing sea surface temperatures, and it is likely that hurricane rainfall and wind speeds will increase in response to global warming. Coastal water temperatures have risen and the geographic distribution of marine species have shifted.
Precipitation increases on land have increased river runoff, polluting coastal waters with more nitrogen and phosphorus, sediments, and other contaminants. Ocean acidification resulting from the uptake of carbon dioxide by ocean waters threatens corals, shellfish, and other living things that form their shells and skeletons from calcium carbonate.

NOTE: Click on View Source to read this Key Idea in the full Highlights document. The page there includes a bar graph of projected sea level rise by the end of this century.


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