What causes sea level rise?

Article by Hazell Ransome.

Sea level rise is caused by two factors: with rising temperatures the sea water will expand, because warmer water takes up more space [1] and huge areas of ice on land will melt causing the ice to turn into water and flow into the sea [2].

These huge areas of ice, which rest on land, are called ice sheets [3]. There are two ice sheets in the world, one in Greenland, and one in Antarctica [3].

In the past few decades, global warming has caused parts of ice sheets to melt and shrink [4]. Therefore, water once stored on land now spreads out into the ocean [5,6]. The Greenland ice sheet lost an average of 278 billion tonnes of ice per year between 2006 and 2015 [7]!

Since 2006, melting ice sheets have caused sea levels to rise 1.8 millimetres a year [8]. This is an even bigger contribution than expansion, which caused an increase of 1.4 millimetres per year in the same time period [8].

What about ice in the sea? If that melts won’t sea levels get higher too? – You’ll find out in the next post!


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