Quantcast

Seas Could Rise 8 Feet by 2100 Without Urgent Action to Curb Climate Change

Climate
Waves from a powerful storm batter Atlantic City on Oct. 4, 2015. Jessica Kourkounis / Getty Images

If no meaningful action is taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions, global sea levels could rise eight feet by 2100 and a full 50 feet by 2300.

That was the most dramatic finding of a study conducted by scientists at Rutgers University, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Boston College and published in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources this month.


The scientists reviewed sea level rise to date and a variety of projections for the future.

"There's much that's known about past and future sea-level change, and much that is uncertain. But uncertainty isn't a reason to ignore the challenge," study co-author and Rutgers' Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences Director Robert E. Kopp said in a Rutgers press release Saturday. "Carefully characterizing what's known and what's uncertain is crucial to managing the risks sea-level rise poses to coasts around the world."

Eleven percent of the world's population lives less than 33 feet above sea level, meaning they are extremely vulnerable to any changes. However, if emissions are lower, the effects will be less devastating. Projections for moderate emissions estimate sea levels will rise 1.4 to 2.8 feet by 2100, 2.8 to 5.4 feet by 2150 and 6 to 14 feet by 2300.

Sea levels have already risen about 0.2 feet since 2000 and, in the short term, are projected to rise about six to 10 inches by mid-century.

More data published this week underlined the importance of reducing emissions for limiting sea level rise. That research, released by the University of Southampton Monday, was heavily cited in the landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released Sunday on the possibility and benefits of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

The Southampton University researchers found that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius could halve sea level rise by 2100 compared to doing nothing: 40 centimeters (approximately 15.7 inches) instead of 78 centimeters (approximately 30.7 inches). By 2300, limiting warming to 1.5 degrees could reduce sea level rise by more than three meters (approximately 10 feet).

They also found that achieving the goals of the Paris agreement would reduce by 130,000 square kilometers (approximately 50,193 square miles) the amount of land exposed to flooding by 2100 from a worst-case scenario of 740,000 square kilometers (approximately 285,715.6 square miles).

"Climate change mitigation will make a substantial difference to the inevitable impacts of sea-level rise over very long time scales, with between 1.5 percent and 5.4 percent of the world's population exposed to flooding in 2300 depending on how well we mitigate for climate change," Southampton and Bournemouth University researcher and IPCC report chapter author Dr. Sally Brown said in the Southampton University press release.

But that climate change mitigation has to come quickly.

"Our results indicated there is an extremely narrow window of time to reduce carbon emissions. A carbon-neutral society is required by the 2040s to prevent warming exceeding 1.5 °C, or else we must prepare for the increased impacts of climate change on the coasts," University of Southampton Ocean and Earth Science lecturer Dr. Philip Goodwin, two of whose studies were cited in the IPCC report, said.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Eating healthy can help you lose weight and have more energy.

Read More Show Less
arinahabich / Stock / Getty Images

By Sydney Swanson

With April hopping along and Easter just around the corner, it's time for dyeing eggs (and inadvertently, dyeing hands.) It's easy to grab an egg-dyeing kit at the local supermarket or drug store, but those dye ingredients are not pretty.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Aerial of farmland and mountains near Seaward Kaikoura Range in New Zealand. David Wall Photo / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images Plus

By Jordan Davidson

New Zealand's pristine image as a haven of untouched forests and landscapes was tarnished this week by a brand new government report. The Environment Aotearoa 2019 painted a bleak image of the island nation's environment and its future prospects.

Read More Show Less
heshphoto / Image Source / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Eating even "moderate" amounts of red and processed meat increases the risk of colon cancer, according to a new study of nearly half a million adults in the United Kingdom.

Read More Show Less
The view from the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, Michigan. Ken Lund / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Sierra Searcy

This week, progressive Democrats and youth advocates are launching a nationwide tour to win support for the Green New Deal. Though popular, the ambitious plan to tackle climate change has struggled to earn the endorsement of centrist Democrats in Rust Belt states like Michigan, the second stop on the tour.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Mike Taube / Getty Images

If you are looking for something to do this Easter weekend, why not visit your nearest national park? All sites run by the National Park Service (NPS) will be free Saturday, April 20 as this year's National Park Week kicks off, USA Today reported.

Read More Show Less
A new EPA rule on asbestos does not say anything about the asbestos currently in the environment. Bob Allen / Getty Images

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) passed a new rule on asbestos Wednesday that it says will "close the door" on new, unapproved uses. But public health advocates warn the rule could actually open the door to increased use of the carcinogenic fibrous material.

Read More Show Less
A mountain woodland caribou bull in the Muskwa-Kechika Wilderness area in northern British Columbia, Canada. John E Marriott / All Canada Photos / Getty Images

It's heartening, in the midst of the human-caused sixth mass extinction, to find good wildlife recovery news. As plant and animal species disappear faster than they have for millions of years, Russia's Siberian, or Amur, tigers are making a comeback. After falling to a low of just a few dozen in the mid-20th century, the tigers now number around 500, with close to 100 cubs — thanks to conservation measures that include habitat restoration and an illegal hunting crackdown.

Read More Show Less