Sea Levels Rising Faster Than Expected

Scientists warn global sea levels could rise by as much as 6.5 feet by 2100, displacing nearly 200 million people and damaging agricultural land.

Jun. 14, 2019
By Isabel Putinja

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A new sci­en­tific study warns that global sea lev­els are ris­ing faster than pre­vi­ously pre­dicted.

According to ear­lier pre­dic­tions elab­o­rated in a report pub­lished in 2013 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), sea lev­els were expected to rise by between 20 inches and 39 inches by the year 2100.

But this recent study, pub­lished on May 20, 2019, in the sci­en­tific jour­nal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, claims the IPCC’s 2013 pre­dic­tion is inac­cu­rate and that the actual sea level rise will be much more – up to twice the level pre­dicted.

Such a rise in global sea level could result in land loss of 1.79 mil­lion square kilo­me­ters (691,000 square miles), includ­ing crit­i­cal regions of food pro­duc­tion, and poten­tial dis­place­ment of up to 187 mil­lion peo­ple.- Jonathan Bamber, the study’s lead author

This struc­tured expert judge­ment study was con­ducted by a research team of 22 inter­na­tional sci­en­tists who exam­ined the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in Greenland, West Antarctica and East Antarctica. Based on their find­ings, they esti­mated the future global sea level rise accord­ing to low and high tem­per­a­ture rises.

In a best-case sce­nario where global tem­per­a­tures rise by only two degrees Celsius, sea lev­els are pre­dicted to rise by between 10 inches and 32 inches by 2100. This would be in line with the 2016 Paris Agreement’s aim is to keep the tem­per­a­ture rise below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

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However, if tem­per­a­tures increase by nine degrees Fahrenheit due to grow­ing green­house gas emis­sions, the sci­en­tists esti­mate a sea level rise of between 20 inches and 70 inches. But when fac­tor­ing in ther­mal expan­sion and the con­tri­bu­tion played by the melt­ing ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica, the sci­en­tists warn that the increase of sea lev­els could even exceed 6.5 feet.

For 2100, the ice sheet con­tri­bu­tion is very likely in the range of seven to 178 cen­time­ters (2.5 to 70 inches), but once you add in glac­i­ers and ice caps out­side the ice sheets and ther­mal expan­sion of the seas, you tip well over two meters (6.5 feet),” Jonathan Bamber, the study’s lead author, said.

The study’s con­clu­sion starkly warns that a 6.5‑foot rise in the global sea level would have pro­found con­se­quences for human­ity.”

Such a rise in global sea level could result in land loss of 1.79 mil­lion square kilo­me­ters (691,000 square miles), includ­ing crit­i­cal regions of food pro­duc­tion, and poten­tial dis­place­ment of up to 187 mil­lion peo­ple,” said Bamber.

Among the areas that could be impacted most are North Africa and the Middle East, both of which account for about 21 per­cent of the world’s olive oil pro­duc­tion and 58 per­cent of the world’s table olive pro­duc­tion, accord­ing to the International Olive Council.

Earlier this year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned that the impacts of cli­mate change are accel­er­at­ing and that the past four years have been the warmest on record.

Record lev­els of green­house gases com­bined with increas­ing ocean tem­per­a­tures and a record rise in sea lev­els are indi­ca­tors that cli­mate change is a per­sis­tent trend that threat­ens the goal set in the 2016 Paris Agreement to limit a rise in global tem­per­a­tures to below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit by 2030.





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