Sea level rise is something that concerns a lot of coastal populations across the world. Many feel that the main cause is climate change and whilst this is true to some extent, there are many other causes, particularly in the UK, of sea level change. This has caused the sea levels around the coasts of the UK to rise and fall over millions of years, and the last major ice age had a major impact on the sea levels of the UK and the rest of the world, and it is still having an effect on them today.
Isostatic rebound is the process in which the land literally rebounds from the pressure put on it by the vast ice sheets from the last ice age. During this time, the north-west of the UK was covered in these vast ice sheets which was weighing down the earths crust in this part of the UK. When the ice melted at the end of the ice age this pressure was released and the north-west of the UK began to rise or rebound after the pressure from the ice was removed, this also caused the south-east of the UK to sink. therefore the sea level is falling in the north-west and rising in the south-east, and this process is still occurring today, causing small amounts of sea level change.
Of course there are other causes of sea level change in the UK. Global climate change is having an effect as well. As the worlds temperature increases, the amount of ice around the poles falls, as more of it starts to melt, this increases the volume of the oceans leading to sea levels rising dramatically. It is predicted that sea levels will rise by at least 2 meters by the end of the century at the current rate of climate change. Climate change was the reason for a rise in sea levels at the end of the last ice age, so much so, that sea levels rose enough to cut England off from the rest of mainland Europe.
Also, a process called thermal expansion can lead to changes in the sea levels. When water molecules in the sea warm up they spread out and expand, which increases the volume of the oceans. For every one degree C rise in temperature, the sea level will rise by at least 0.8m.
- information on sea level change sourced from: https://getrevising.co.uk/resources/sea_level_change and https://getrevising.co.uk/revision-cards/changing_sea_levels#1
- Melting Icecaps = Rising sea level (envethics.wordpress.com)
- Global Warming, Ice Sheets and Sea Level Rise (unofficialnetworks.com)
- Climate change warning from Pacific leaders (3news.co.nz)
- Climate Change: Flood Losses in Major Cities Could be Over $50 Billion by 2050 (scienceworldreport.com)