Sea level rise
Where we are today
Sea level continues to rise at an accelerated rate. Global mean sea level for 2018 was around 3.7 mm higher than in 2017 and the highest on record. Accelerated ice mass loss from the ice sheets is the main cause of the global mean sea-level acceleration.
Where we are heading
Sea levels are expected to continue to rise with accelerating speed. Levels depend on the effort we undertake to mitigate climate change and a complex interaction of global and local/regional factors. Uncertainties are high, especially after 2050, but can nevertheless help improve decisions on coastal development. Beyond 2100, sea level will continue to rise for centuries and will remain elevated for thousands of years.
Sea level does not rise uniformly. Observations show that sea level shows substantial regional variability. The regional differences are due to a range of local factors, such as wind, flows of freshwater and melting of ice.
Drivers for sea level rise
What it means
Sea level rise reduces the land available for settlement and agriculture and poses direct risk to lives and infrastructure. Currently around 370 million people are living in areas below 5 meters of elevation. Many of these would be directly affected. This number is likely to grow with increasing overall population and the ongoing move from rural areas to cities, many of which are at the coast.