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Climate change means rising sea levels threaten coastal cities, island nations

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Scientists estimate that by 2100 the ocean will be between 7 and 23 inches higher. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) Scientists estimate that by 2100 the ocean will be between 7 and 23 inches higher. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

(RNN) - Rising sea levels mean many important landmarks are going the way of Atlantis and sinking into the ocean. And as this Earth Day rolls around, it might be good to think about your vacation plans before your chances disappear beneath the waves.

Despite the political debate over the existence of global warming, scientists have recorded the rising tide of higher ocean levels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that by the end of the 21st century, the ocean will be between 7 and 23 inches higher than it is now – and that doesn't include estimates from melting ice sheets such as in the Arctic, Greenland and Antarctic.

Rising sea levels may not mean much to the casual reader, but for people living along coastlines, deltas and on islands where the land is mere inches above sea level, it means that by the end of the century their home may be either under water or encroached on by waves and high tides.

Hurricanes and other coastal storms exacerbate the issue and contribute to land erosion and flooding. And once again, thanks to warming temperatures, hurricanes are going to be stronger with more common Category 4 and Category5 storms making landfall, according to the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and NOAA.

Even entire countries are at threat – and at the current rate of rising sea levels, with no human intervention, several places could be under the sea by the end of the century.

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