Marine Science Faculty Publications


Sea Level Rise

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Sea level, Climate change, Vertical land motion, Last Glacial Maximum, Ice melt, Ocean warming, Tide gauges, Satellite altimetry

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Sea level rise is naturally a topic of concern to many Floridians. Our intention in this chapter is to give the reader enough information on this topic to inform decisions about future adaptation strategies. We begin by reviewing how we measure sea level and the reasons that sea level can change. At the global level, the problem is relatively simple in that globally averaged sea level can only increase if water is added to the ocean or the ocean warms. The situation is more complicated at the local level, where variations can occur (e.g., due to changes in wind and ocean current patterns, and differences in vertical land motion rates). We present summaries of global sea level change over several time scales, ranging from the modern day to the geological records. Although we have confidence in estimates of the rate of global mean sea level change, determining from observations whether the rate is increasing, or accelerating, is more challenging. Over the next century, sea level change in Florida is expected to follow the global trend reasonably closely, but on shorter time scales and in different localities some variations are inevitable. We end with a discussion of the future sea level rise projections for Florida that should form the basis for efforts to plan adaptation strategies.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Sea Level Rise, in E. P. Chassignet, J. W. Jones, V. Misra & J. Obeysekera (Eds.), Florida's Climate: Changes, Variations, & Impacts, Florida Climate Institute, p. 557-578