Sea levels could rise nearly twice as much as previously predicted by the end of this century if carbon dioxide emissions continue unabated, an outcome that could devastate coastal communities around the globe, according to new research published last week.
The main reason? Antarctica.
Scientists behind a new study published in the journal Nature used sophisticated computer models to decipher a longstanding riddle about how the massive, mostly uninhabited continent surrendered so much ice during previous warm periods on Earth.
They found that similar conditions in the future could lead to monumental and irreversible increases in sea levels. If high levels of greenhouse gas emissions continue, they concluded, oceans could rise by close to two meters in total (more than six feet) by the end of the century. The melting of ice on Antarctica alone could cause seas to rise more than 15 meters (49 feet) by 2500.
The startling findings paint a far grimmer picture than current consensus predictions, which have suggested that seas could rise by just under a meter at most by the year 2100. Those estimates relied on the notion that expanding ocean waters and the melting of relatively small glaciers would fuel the majority of sea level rise, rather than the massive ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.
Should the new research prove correct, it could trigger a “tectonic shift” in expectations for the speed and severity of the sea level problem, said Ben Strauss, director of the program on sea level rise at Climate Central, an independent organization of scientists based in New Jersey. He said that while the study’s findings represent potentially grave problems for many coastal areas in the decades ahead, the century beginning in 2100 could see truly catastrophic shifts, unless societies make sharp cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
They explain their discovery in the video.
Source: Washington Post