The U.S. is shrinking—physically. It has lost nearly 20 meters of beach from its East Coast during the 20th century. The oceans have risen by roughly 17 centimeters since 1900 through expansion (warmer water taking up more space) and the ongoing meltdown of polar ice.
That increase, however, is a small fraction compared with what’s to come. “Plan for one meter by the end of this century,” says glaciologist Robert Bindschadler, an emeritus scientist at NASA. “The heat in the ocean is killing the ice sheet.”