The seas have been rising for 18,000 years, but the pace has quickened. Geologic records show an average increase of about 2 inches every 100 years from the most recent ice age until the beginning of the past century.
Historical data of water levels at the Golden Gate over the past century indicate a long-term trend of increasing annual average sea level (see Figure below). During the last century the Pacific Ocean crept 8 inches higher at the Golden Gate.
From 1900 through 2003, the average annual water level at Golden Gate rose over 8 inches. Such increases may be influenced by climate change factors like thermal expansion of the ocean and melting of the polar ice caps.
Sea Level at the Golden Gate, 1900 – 2003 (Source: NOAA)
FOR THE FUTURE
Question to Phillippe Cousteau by Bill Maher: After seeing the horrifying pictures of the gulf spill, is it possible to use our oceans to create energy without drilling for oil?
That means putting power plants with turbines in coastal areas. As the tide goes in and goes out, it basically flows through these power plants and causes the generators to turn and it creates energy. But there’s also the potential of wave power. Research indicates that just 1/10 of 1 percent of the energy in ocean waves would be able to supply the world’s energy needs five times over. Then there’s Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), where the temperature difference between warm surface water and cold, deep water is used to produce electric power. Every day the ocean absorbs enough heat in thermal energy to equate to something like 250 billion barrels of oil. We have the technology to tap into these clean energy sources; we just lack the will. There’s too much vested interest in conventional energy and now a renewed interest in nuclear energy. When we have the technology to develop renewable energy that has no negative output, why aren’t we?
Projections indicate a median sea level rise (SLR) of 16 inches by 2050 due to climate change. This map shows the areas in the Gallinas Watershed that are vulnerable to flooding.