Sea Level Rise:
How Does Sea Level in the Past Compare to Sea Level in the Present and Future?

You have just learned that Earth is warming and ice is melting, but is sea level also changing and what are the impacts to coastal communities? Sea level has changed throughout Earth history. But how much has it changed over the past few thousand years as human civilization flourished and spread across the planet? Human population over the past has thrived because of development along the coast. Yet these areas are now facing challenges due to sea level changes. This NASA-NOAA animation of city lights at night shows just why learning about sea level rise is important.

Video Source: NASA
Florida At Night
Florida At Night. Image Source: NASA

In this investigation, you will first compare global temperature, CO2 concentrations, and sea level over the past 400,000. You will then calculate the rate of global mean sea level change since the Industrial Revolution and rate projected over the 21st century. Finally, you will study past and projected sea level in Florida. In October of 2014, astronauts aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of Florida. This photograph clearly shows why Florida’s coastal regions are especially vulnerable to sea level rise.

Use will also use NOAA’s Digital Coast: Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer to compare sea level and flooding along U.S. coasts.