While climate change and sea-level rise are book-length subjects, this column will attempt to highlight major aspects of the problem. The World Ocean has an area of about 139 million square miles. Over the past century it has added a few hundred square miles. The reason? Sea-level rise caused by global warming.
From 2000 to 2100 the estimated rise will be 7.5 feet. Is this a good number? Maybe it’s too small. As computer models have improved they show that the rise has been consistently underestimated.
Shore-support activities for ships and shipping are sited close to sea level. With sea-level rise, shore infrastructure will become inundated. For the Navy, this represents a massive, multibillion-dollar investment problem to upgrade and/or replace facilities. And that future is not far away.
Best estimates of change come from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Thousands of scientists contribute to its work, and its findings are widely respected as credible. The panel has been issuing global-warming reports every five years since 1988; the fifth was just issued.