Quantcast

Worst Case Sea Level Rise by Century’s End Could Be Doubled, New Study Finds

Popular
A woman walks in front of her water-logged home in Sriwulan village, Sayung sub-district of Demak regency, Central Java, Indonesia on Feb. 2, 2018. Siswono Toyudho / Anadolu Agency /Getty Images

A new study has more than doubled the worst-case-scenario projection for sea level rise by the end of the century, BBC News reported Monday.


In its fifth assessment report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted between 52 and 98 centimeters (approximately 1.7 to 3.2 feet) of sea level rise by 2100. But the new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Monday, put the range at 62 to 238 centimeters (approximately two to 7.8 feet).

"We should not rule out a sea-level rise of over two meters (6.5 feet) if we continue along a business-as-usual emissions trajectory," study lead author of the University of Bristol Jonathan Bamber said, according to USA Today.

The upper estimate is what would happen if temperatures rose 5 degrees Celsius by the century's end and has about a 5 percent chance of occurring. But Bamber said it was still worth taking seriously.

"If I said to you that there was a one in 20 chance that if you crossed the road you would be squashed you wouldn't go near it," Bamber told BBC News. "Even a one percent probability means that a one in a hundred year flood is something that could happen in your lifetime. I think that a five percent probability, crikey — I think that's a serious risk."

Such a rise in sea levels would have devastating consequences. It would swallow 1.79 million square kilometers (approximately 700,000 square miles) of land, an area roughly the size of Libya, or three times the size of California, according to USA Today. The inundation would threaten important agricultural areas like the Nile delta, parts of Bangladesh and major cities like New York, London and Shanghai, BBC News said. It would also swamp Pacific island nations and displace as many as 187 million people, Bamber told New Scientist. Bamber put it in perspective for BBC News by saying that the Syrian refugee crisis had seen only one million displaced into Europe.

"A sea-level rise of this magnitude would clearly have profound consequences for humanity," Bamber said, as USA Today reported.

Bamber and his team based their findings on the work of 22 researchers focusing on how Greenland and Antarctica's ice sheets might respond to additional climate change.

Recent studies based on satellite data have shown that glaciers in both the Arctic and Antarctic are melting at accelerating rates. A theory has also emerged that ice cliffs in Antarctica might collapse as the ice sheets that support them melt.

Bamber told New Scientist there was still time to avert catastrophe.

"We can make some choices but we have to make them very soon," he said.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Let's talk about human composting. Katrina Spade / TEDxOrcasIsland


No longer will the options when we die be a choice between just burial or cremation. Soon it will be possible to compost your remains and leave your loved ones with rich soil, thanks to a new funeral service opening in Seattle in 2021 that will convert humans into soil in just 30 days, as The Independent reported.

Read More Show Less
You can reduce the footprint of a medium-sized live tree by donating it to elephants at a local zoo, like this African elephant pictured above. eans / iStock / Getty Images

The holiday season is supposed to be about giving and sharing, but often it is actually about throwing away. The U.S. generates 25 percent more garbage between Thanksgiving and New Year's than it does during the rest of the year. That's around one million extra tons per week, according to National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) figures reported by The Associated Press.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The Opera House is seen with smoke haze which enveloped Sydney Harbor on Dec. 10 in Sydney, Australia. Smoke haze hangs over the city as the New South Wales fire danger risk is raised from 'very high' to 'severe'. James D. Morgan / Getty Images

The brushfires raging through New South Wales have shrouded Australia's largest city in a blanket of smoke that pushed the air quality index 12 times worse than the hazardous threshold, according to the Australia Broadcast Corporation (ABC).

Read More Show Less
People walk across the bridge near Little Raven Court in downtown Denver. Younger Americans increasingly prefer to live in walkable neighborhoods. Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post via Getty Images

By David B. Goldstein

Energy efficiency is the cornerstone of any country's plan to fight the climate crisis. It is the cheapest option available, and one that as often as not comes along with other benefits, such as job creation, comfort and compatibility with other key solutions such as renewable energy. This has been recognized by the International Energy Agency (IEA) for at least a decade.

Read More Show Less
Activists from Extinction Rebellion New York City engaged in nonviolent direct action to confront climate change outside City Hall on April 17, 2019. Erik McGregor / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Over 500 groups on Monday rolled out an an action plan for the next president's first days of office to address the climate emergency and set the nation on a transformative path towards zero emissions and a just transition in their first days in office.

Read More Show Less