Why does sea level change by different amounts in different places?

Sea level is rising faster in some places than others because of wind patterns, ocean currents, and other factors. In addition, sea level may seem like it's changing more in certain places than others because the land itself may be rising or sinking.

In some places, the land is rising or sinking because of plate tectonics—the same forces that cause earthquakes, create volcanoes, and build mountain ranges. In addition to plate tectonics, land can also sink because people have pumped lots of oil, natural gas, or water out of the ground. When the land is also rising, sea level rise might not seem so bad. But in coastal areas where the land is sinking, the effects of sea level rise will be even worse.

This diagram illustrates how rising sea level will have worse consequences in places where the land is sinking.

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