sea levels are rising at a rapid rate and could be another two feet higher by the end of the century compared to 2005 levels, a study based on 25 years of satellite data shows.
The research, published Monday in the
Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, shows that global sea levels have risen roughly three millimeters (0.1 inches) per year in the past. However, that rate is not constant—it may jump to 10 millimeters per year by 2100.
One of the main drivers behind that acceleration is the melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.
Significantly, the projected sea level rise is a “conservative” estimate and may likely be higher, the researchers warn.
“There may be abrupt changes in the ice sheets,” lead author Steve Nerem, a University of Colorado-Boulder professor of aerospace engineering sciences, told
ThinkProgress. “That’s why I think that this is a conservative estimate, because it doesn’t consider what if the ice sheets really start to go.”
Sea level rise is accelerating because of melting of ice sheets in Greenland & Antarctica, new study shows. Acceleration is the difference between 9 inches of sea level rise by 2100 and 2 feet or more; https://t.co/QipCloHvhz pic.twitter.com/c8AzZEiVIb
— @borenbears (@borenbears) February 12, 2018
The new research confirms computer-modeled projections from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
InsideClimate News that the study is important because it relies completely on observational data.
“Some folks have not wanted to do anything about climate change because they don’t trust the models. These findings support the modeled projections,” he said.
Sea level rise is already
causing major problems for coastal cities, from high tides to intense storm surges.
“Any flooding concerns that coastal communities have for 2100 may occur over the next few decades,” Oregon State University coastal flooding expert Katy Serafin told the
Coastal Flooding X-Factor: Natural Climate Patterns Create Hot Spots of Rapid Sea Level Rise https://t.co/WRv6Alkbug @SierraClub @greenpeaceusa @foe_us @ClimateReality @algore
— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch) January 2, 2018