Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Sea Level Rising Faster Than Expected, NASA Warns

Climate

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

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana has been converted to a 1,000-bed field hospital for coronavirus patients to alleviate stress on local hospitals. Chris Graythen / Getty Images

An area in Louisiana whose predominantly black and brown residents are hard-hit by health problems from industry overdevelopment is experiencing one of the highest death rates from coronavirus of any county in the United States.

Read More Show Less
A woman lies in bed with the flu. marka/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A central player in the fight against the novel coronavirus is our immune system. It protects us against the invader and can even be helpful for its therapy. But sometimes it can turn against us.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Several flower species, including the orchid, can recover quickly from severe injury, scientists have found. cunfek / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Calling someone a delicate flower may not sting like it used to, according to new research. Scientists have found that many delicate flowers are actually remarkably hearty and able to bounce back from severe injury.

Read More Show Less
A Boeing 727 flies over approach lights with a trail of black-smoke from the engines on April 9, 2018. aviation-images.com / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

With global air travel at a near standstill, the airline industry is looking to rewrite the rules it agreed to tackle global emissions. The Guardian reports that the airline is billing it as a matter of survival, while environmental activists are accusing the industry of trying to dodge their obligations.

Read More Show Less
A National Guard member works on election day at a polling location on April 7, 2020 in Madison, Wisconsin. Andy Manis / Getty Images.

ByJulia Baumel

The outbreak of COVID-19 across the U.S. has touched every facet of our society, and our democracy has been no exception.

Read More Show Less