Here’s something we’d better not forget: There’s enough heat stored in the ocean to heat up the Earth as if 500 100-watt light bulbs were turned on at the same time by each of the 6.7 billion people on the planet.
Indian Ocean sea levels are already rising unevenly and threatening residents in some densely populated coastal areas and islands. A warmer ocean accounts for about one-third to one-half of global sea level rise, since salt water expands and takes up more space as it heats up. PhysOrg.com quotes researcher John Lyman as saying, “We are seeing the global ocean store more heat than it gives off.” They quote NASA’s Josh Willis as saying, “The ocean is the biggest reservoir for heat in the climate system, so as the planet warms, we’re finding that 80 to 90% increased heat ends up in the ocean.” Is there any way we can avoid releasing all this heat?
As ocean levels rise, some islands in the middle of the Pacific are adapting by shape-shifting. This is crucial because as the water rises, tiny island countries will be the first to drown.
Two researchers who used historical aerial photos to study changes in 27 Pacific islands over the past 60 years discovered that will sea levels have been steadily rising, just 4 of these island have gotten smaller, while the other 23 have either stayed the same or grown BIGGER. This is because, unlike islands in the Atlantic, which are made of sand, low-lying Pacific islands are made of coral debris, which erodes from the reefs that encircle them, is carried by waves and deposited on the nearest land mass. When hurricane Bebe hit Tuvalu in 1972 it deposited enough coral onto the eastern part of the island to increase its size by 10%. In New Scientist, Wendy Zukerman quotes researcher Arthur Webb as saying, “Atolls are composed of once-living material, so you have a continual growth.”
Sea level rise is particularly high along the coastlines of the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, Sri Lanka, Sumatra and Java. The rise, which may aggravate monsoon flooding in Bangladesh and India, could have future impacts on both regional and global climate. Researcher Gerald Meehl says, “Global sea level patterns are not geographically uniform. Sea level rise in some areas correlates with sea level fall in other areas.”
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