Rutgers professor discusses rising sea levels during Speaker Series event

Thursday, October 21, 2021
Written by: Mark Richardson

Seminole State College of Florida's Speaker Series hosted its second event of the 2021-22 academic year on Wednesday, Oct. 20 with a presentation on confronting coastal risk in an age of rising sea levels with Rutgers University Professor Dr. Robert Kopp.

Kopp is a climate scientist who serves as a professor in Rutgers University’s Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences and is also the co-director of the university’s Office of Climate Action. Kopp is also the lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report. His research focuses on past and future sea-level change, the interactions between physical climate change and the economy, and the use of climate risk information in decision-making. 

During his presentation, Kopp presented data from his research that shows how today’s rate of global sea-level is roughly three times the average rate over the last century 

“The global trend is clear. Global average sea level is rising and it’s rising at an accelerated rate,” said Kopp. “What we see from 1901 to 1971, global average sea level rose at about a rate of 1.3 millimeters per year or about a half inch per decade. From 1971 to 2006 it rose at a rate of about 2 millimeters per year, about seventh tenths of an inch per decade.  And from 2006 to 2018 it rose at an average rate of about 3.7 millimeters per year, about an inch and half per decade.”

Kopp is also a member of the NASA Sea Level Change Team and says NASA’s missions play a vital role in his and other climate scientist’s work.

“Earth observations are critically important to understand all the changes going on, on our planet,” said Kopp. “We are extremely fortunate that we have the ability to observe the changes from space.”

Following his presentation, Kopp answered questions from attendees. 

In addition to his work at Rutgers, Kopp is also the director of the Climate Impact Lab and directs the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub, a consortium funded by the National Science Foundation that advances coastal climate adaptation and the scientific understanding of natural and human coastal climate dynamics.

Seminole State’s Speaker Series is co-sponsored by Addition Financial and all events are free and open to the public.

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About the Speaker Series

Each year, the Seminole State Speaker Series welcomes speakers representing diverse views and interests. The Speaker Series is co-sponsored by Addition Financial. For more information and view a list of previous speakers at Seminole State, visit