The temperature of the ocean is rising to record highs and if the trend continues, it could be extremely detrimental to coastal lands.

A recent press release from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the ocean heat content (OHC), which describes the amount of heat stored in the upper levels of the ocean, hit a record high in 2021, surpassing the previous record set in 2020.

"The seven highest OHCs have occurred in the last seven years (2015-2021)," read the release. "High ocean-heat content can contribute to sea-level rise.”

 

 

If sea levels continue to rise this would mean that the land that meets with ocean waters will flood and become under sea level with time. Some areas, such as parts of Florida, are already experiencing flooding. According to StatesAtRisk.org, Florida has 3.5 million people at risk of coastal flooding and by 2050, an additional 1.1 million people are projected to be at risk due to rising sea levels.

As the ocean continues to heat up over time, agriculture and wildlife habitats are threatened. Once land is flooded with salt water, it can take hundreds of years to return to normal.

“When sea levels rise as rapidly as they have been, even a small increase can have devastating effects on coastal habitats farther inland, it can cause destructive erosion, wetland flooding, aquifer and agricultural soil contamination with salt, and lost habitat for fish, birds, and plants,” a report from National Geographic noted in 2019.