The Ultimate High Tide

by Robert G. Dean, Grad. Research Prof.; Dept. of Coastal and Oceanographic Engrg., Univ. of Florida, 336 Weil Hall, Gainesville, Fla. 32611,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1986, Vol. 56, Issue 9, Pg. 64-66

Document Type: Feature article


Unprecedented consumption of fossil fuels and clearing of vegetation have spurred interest in the greenhouse effect. Under this scenario, a build-up of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere would trap heat next to the earth. This heat would increase the sea level by melting the polar ice caps and thermally expanding the ocean. Data are, at times, sketchy, but seem to indicate that CO2 levels, the earth's temperature and the level of the oceans are rising. The causes of sea level rise are so pervasive that attempts to curb them will probably be impractical. Thus, engineers will have to alter coastal zone practices in the near future. Decisions will have to be made on whether or not to replenish beaches, harden shorelines, cope with flooding and protect water supplies.

Subject Headings: Sea level | Ocean engineering | Water supply | Vegetation | Tides | Thermal properties | Thermal pollution

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