Global sea levels expected to rise one to four feet by 2100

For residents of Huntington Beach, Calif., climate change is a very real threat to life as they know it.
CBS News

(CBS News) HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. - Two government agencies reported Tuesday the Earth is getting hotter.

2012 was the 9th warmest year on record. The average temperature worldwide last year was 58 degrees -- a full degree above the 20th century average. It doesn't sound like much, but it can affect the weather and sea ice.

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In Huntington Beach, Calif., people fear the beautiful Pacific Ocean, which creates their backdrop and lifestyle, is becoming a destructive force.

A king tide in December rose close to houses on the edge. Today, you can stroll through the dry area.

Connie Boardman
Connie Boardman CBS News

"The water was up to the Pacific Coast highway," aid Connie Boardman, a college biology professor and mayor of Huntington Beach.

The high surf and tides occur when the earth, moon and sun align. But rising sea levels have pushed the tides higher and further inland.

"Along the southern California coast, we've experienced an 8-inch rise in sea level already. It's nothing that we can continue to deny," said Boardman.

According to a U.S. government forecast, global sea levels are expected to rise one to four feet by 2100.

So Huntington Beach is looking at putting in more pumps, more drains and is planning for a wetter future.

Nearly 5 million Americans live within four feet of current high tide levels. The mayor of Huntington Beach says the time to act is now.