If you listen closely to the current public discourse on climate change, you will frequently hear the refrain “Global Warming and Sea Level Rise.” Although global warming is likely to have many serious consequences, it is the specter of sea level rise that seems to attract the most attention. Perhaps this focus is because sea level rise lends itself to graphic (though inaccurate) portrayals, such as tsunami waves crashing onshore. Indeed, at the current global rate of ~ 3 mm yr–1, one might be tempted to dismiss sea level rise as a minor consequence of climate change. But, the current rate is expected to grow, possibly resulting in 1–2 m (3–6 ft) of sea level rise over the next 100 years. This increase will directly threaten the 146 million people worldwide who currently live within 1 meter of mean high water. Entire island nations may be inundated, and roughly 3.5 trillion dollars of property are at risk along the east coast of the United States alone. There are also a number of near-term threats, including the slow, ongoing inundation of ecologically sensitive marshlands, and increasing vulnerability to storm surge (see cover photo). It is against this backdrop that we present this special issue of Oceanography.