How would sea level change if glaciers melted?

If all of the glacier ice on Earth were to melt, sea level would rise ~ 80 m (~ 265 ft), flooding every coastal city on the planet.

  • If all of Earth’s temperate glaciers melted, sea level would rise ~ 0.3–0.6 m (~ 1-2 ft).
  • If all of Greenland’s glaciers melted, sea level would rise ~ 6 m (~ 20 ft).
  • If all of Antarctica’s glaciers melted, sea level would rise ~ 73 m (~ 240 ft).
  • If all of Alaska’s glaciers melted, sea level would rise ~ 0.12 m (~ 4.7 in).

Related Content

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October 3, 2016

As coastal development along the Gulf Coast continues to expand, tidal saline wetlands could have difficulty adjusting to rising sea levels.

Image:  Black-footed Albatross with Chick
September 23, 2015

Islands used by tropical seabirds are highly vulnerable to sea level rise according to a new study released today.

Image: Elevation Field Work at Bandon Marsh
August 14, 2015

The U.S. Geological Survey and Oregon State University released a report this week examining Pacific Northwest tidal wetland vulnerability to sea level rise. Scientists found that, while vulnerability varies from marsh to marsh, most wetlands would likely be resilient to rising sea levels over the next 50-70 years.

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December 9, 2013

Communities and coastal habitats in the southern Chesapeake Bay region face increased flooding because, as seawater levels are rising in the bay, the land surface is also sinking._ A new USGS report released today concludes that intensive groundwater withdrawals are a major cause of the sinking land, or 'land subsidence', that contributes to flooding risks in the region. 

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June 24, 2012

Rates of sea level rise are increasing three-to-four times faster along portions of the U.S. Atlantic Coast than globally, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report published in Nature Climate Change. 

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May 1, 2012

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Basements of some local buildings and underground utilities may be at risk of being inundated by rising groundwater by the end of the 21st century due to projected rates of sea level rise for the area, according to a preliminary study released today.

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Walrus Sea-Ice Habitats Melting Away
January 9, 2017

Walrus Sea-Ice Habitats Melting Away

Past and Future Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Coastal Habitats and Species
April 16, 2016

Past and Future Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Coastal Habitats and Species

USGS scientists use a boat and geophysical equipment to record geological and hydrological conditions in a coastal embayment.
April 9, 2015

U. S. Geological Survey Scientists Carol Johnson, Eric White and Tim McCobb prepare to deploy geophysical equipment in a coastal embayment April 9, 2015 in Falmouth, Massachusetts. This equipment will outline the geological conditions under the water, which will give the scientists a better understanding of the geology and hydrology of the sandy glacial deposits underlying this portion of Cape Cod’s coast.

May 29, 2013

For questions about this project, please contact the speaker, John Crusius at jcrusius@usgs.gov, (206) 543-6978. The northern Gulf of Alaska (GoA) maintains a productive ecosystem, with commercially important fisheries. Virtually all of the many glaciers that line the northern GoA coast are retreating, yet the impacts on the marine ecosystem are poorly understood. This project carried out a set of frequent field observations in a network of tributaries of the Copper River, the single largest source of fresh water to the GoA (and a watershed with substantial glacial coverage). We also carried out a set of research cruises on the continental shelf and slope to the south. Iron is a nutrient that limits biological productivity in parts of the GoA, while nitrate is limiting in nearshore areas.

August 6, 2009

Most glaciers in Washington and Alaska are dramatically shrinking in response to a warming climate.

USGS scientist Edward Josberger discusses research from the past 50 years to measure changes in the mass (length and thickness) of three glaciers in Alaska and Washington. These are the longest such records in North America and among the longest in the world.

Last-interglacial sea level as determined by dated corals

Elevations of corals we have dated from last-interglacial marine deposits on tectonically stable coastlines indicate a paleo-sea level of +5 meters to +10 meters.

National Parks that could be threatened by higher sea level

National Parks and Seashores on coasts that could be affected by future sea level rise.