Fast Rising Sea Level on U.S. East Coast

Sea-level rise is projected to rise twice as much in the northeast United States than along the coast of the rest of the nation and roughly three to four times faster than the global average.

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General Information

Questions for Classroom Discussion

  • Explore sea-level change over time (geologic time and recent time). 
  • What causes changes in sea level?
  • Why is the coastal region of the eastern United States being impacted more than the rest of the United States coastline? 
  • What data do scientists use to model sea-level rise?
  • Can we as humans stop or slow down sea-level change?  What are your thoughts?
  • National parks are protected lands.  With the rise of sea level, should national parks on the east coast still be protected?  What would be the benefits?  The costs?
  • Do you think humans should “stay put” on the east coast, or pack up and move?  Why/why not?
  • Is this rapid sea-level rise because of natural causes, human activity, or a combination of both?  What is your evidence to support your point of view?  What other evidence would you like to further support your ideas?

Big Ideas

From the Earth Science Literacy Principles

  • Big Idea 1. Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet. (1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7)
  • Big Idea 3. Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life. (3.4)
  • Big Idea 9. Humans significantly alter the Earth. (9.1)

From The Big Ideas in Earth and Space Science (ESBD)

  • The Earth System (1)
  • The Nature of Science (21, 22, 24)

Compiled September 1, 2012, by L.A. Guertin

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