Climate Action

Sea levels are rising at the fastest rate for 28 centuries – what does this mean for cities?

Image: A ship travels north on the Hudson river past the Manhattan borough of New York City. REUTERS/Mike Segar.

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Sea levels are rising several times faster today than at any other point in roughly the last 3,000 years, according to new research.

Scientists project that if humans don't get control over greenhouse gas emission levels, then sea levels could rise by as much as 3-4 feet by the year 2100.

Sea levels rise because of melting glaciers and ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica as a result of warming temperatures. The ocean also expands as it warms.

Rising sea levels make coastal areas, particularly those with dense populations, much more vulnerable to heavy flooding.

Artist and researcher Nickolay Lamm, from, previously created sea-level rise maps to show what major US monuments would look like over the next century if we continue on a business-as-usual track. Lamm used data provide by Climate Central to build his sea level maps.

The hypothetical scenes show icons, like the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument, and depict four levels of flooding at each landmark: 0 feet; 5 feet (possible in 100 to 300 years); 12 feet (possible by about 2300); and 25 feet (possible in the coming centuries):

Here's a map of New York City today. The white triangle is where the "camera" is positioned in the illustrations — toward Lower Manhattan.

Source: Nickolay Lamm/; Data provided by Climate Central

Here's that same map of New York City in about 100 years if sea level rises by 5 feet, represented by the blue shading.

Source: Nickolay Lamm/; Data provided by Climate Central

Here's a map of New York City in 2300 if sea level rises 12 feet.

Source: Nickolay Lamm/; Data provided by Climate Central

Here's a map of New York City in the next few centuries if sea level rises 25 feet.

Source: Nickolay Lamm/; Data provided by Climate Central

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