Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Sea Level Rising Faster Than Expected, NASA Warns

Climate
Sea Level Rising Faster Than Expected, NASA Warns

New research underway indicates that at least three feet of global sea level rise is near certain, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists warned Wednesday.

Sea levels have already risen 3 inches on average since 1992, with some areas experiencing as much as a 9-inch rise. Photo credit: NASA / Saskia Madlener

That's the higher range of the one to three feet level of rise the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave in its 2013 assessment.

Sea levels have already risen three inches on average since 1992, with some areas experiencing as much as a 9-inch rise.

"Given what we know now about how the ocean expands as it warms and how ice sheets and glaciers are adding water to the seas, it’s pretty certain we are locked into at least three feet of sea level rise and probably more," said Steve Nerem of the University of Colorado, Boulder and lead of NASA's interdisciplinary Sea Level Change Team. "But we don't know whether it will happen within a century or somewhat longer."

The Greenland ice sheet has contributed more greatly to sea level rise, losing an average of 303 gigatons of ice a year over the past decade, while the Antarctic ice sheet has lost an average of 118 gigatons a year. But scientists at NASA and the University of California, Irvine warned last year that glaciers in the West Antarctic "have passed the point of no return."

Glaciologist Eric Rignot of the UC-Irvine and NASA's JPL and lead author of the West Antarctic study, stated Wednesday that East Antarctica’s ice sheet remains a wildcard.

"The prevailing view among specialists has been that East Antarctica is stable, but we don’t really know," Rignot stated. "Some of the signs we see in the satellite data right now are red flags that these glaciers might not be as stable as we once thought."

Exactly how much rise will happen and when is uncertain, they say. "We’ve seen from the paleoclimate record that sea level rise of as much as 10 feet in a century or two is possible, if the ice sheets fall apart rapidly," said Tom Wagner, the cryosphere program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We’re seeing evidence that the ice sheets are waking up, but we need to understand them better before we can say we’re in a new era of rapid ice loss."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

One of World’s Fastest Melting Glaciers May Have Lost Largest Chunk of Ice in Recorded History

The World’s Oceans Are in Peril

A deadly tornado touched down near the city of Fultondale, Alabama on Jan. 25, 2021. Justin1569 / Wikipedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

A tornado tore through a city north of Birmingham, Alabama, Monday night, killing one person and injuring at least 30.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An empty school bus by a field of chemical plants in "Cancer Alley," one of the most polluted areas of the U.S. that stretches from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, where oil refineries and petrochemical plants reside alongside suburban homes. Giles Clarke / Getty Images

By David Konisky

On his first day in office President Joe Biden started signing executive orders to reverse Trump administration policies. One sweeping directive calls for stronger action to protect public health and the environment and hold polluters accountable, including those who "disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities."

Read More Show Less

Trending

Pixabay

By Katherine Kornei

Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.

Read More Show Less
Icebergs near Ilulissat, Greenland on Oct. 13, 2020. Climate change is having a profound effect with glaciers and the Greenland ice cap retreating. Ulrik Pedersen / NurPhoto via Getty Images

Earth's ice is melting 57 percent faster than in the 1990s and the world has lost more than 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994, research published Monday in The Cryosphere shows.

Read More Show Less
Caribbean islands such as Trinidad have plenty of water for swimming, but locals face water shortages for basic needs. Marc Guitard / Getty Images

By Jewel Fraser

Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.

Read More Show Less