How Is Climate Change Affecting Tides?

In addition to its other destructive effects, climate change is directly tied to sea level rise and flood risk.

We will break down these three major factors:

  • Ice sheet and glacier melting
  • Ocean warming
  • Groundwater extraction

Ice sheet and glacier melting

When ice sheets and glaciers melt, that water contributes to sea level rise. According to NASA, if all of those ice formations melted, the global sea level would rise more than 195 feet. The International Panel on Climate Change says this melting was the largest contributor to sea level rise in the past 30 years. 

Learn more: Understanding ice melt.

Ocean warming

Our oceans capture 90 percent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases. This causes water to expand and the warming of ocean temperatures. This warming has caused about one-third of global sea level rise since 2004. The International Union for Conservation of Nature says the Southern Hemisphere is seeing the greatest warming; this change contributes to the melting of Antarctic ice shelves.

A warmer ocean also spreads disease and reduces oxygen, affecting marine species like coral reefs. Further, we see more severe hurricanes along with intensified droughts and floods

Learn more: sea level rise and warming.

Groundwater extraction

When humans extract groundwater and deplete an aquifer, land loses support in a process known as subsidence. This alters land formations and directions of streams and canals, causing some tides to invade low-lying areas. Population growth only worsens the problem because the added people will require even more groundwater. 

Learn more: groundwater and subsidence

Key takeaways 

  • Ocean warming and melting ice have accounted for nearly one-third of recent global sea level rise. This also intensifies hurricanes, droughts, and floods. 
  • Groundwater extraction has far-reaching effects on low-lying areas and will only worsen with population growth.

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