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.
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.
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.
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.