Quantcast
Climate

Sea Levels Rising at Fastest Rate in 3,000 Years

Sea levels in the 20th century rose faster than at any time in the last 3,000 years. And in the 21st century, the tides will climb ever higher—by at least 28 cms (11 inches) and possibly by as much as 130 cms (51 inches), according to two new studies.

Human activity is implicated in both studies and although neither delivers a new conclusion, each represents a new approach to studies of sea level rise as a consequence of climate change and each is a confirmation of previous research.

What sea level rise could look like at the AT&T Park in San Francisco. Photo credit: Climate Central

Robert Kopp, a climate scientist and Earth historian at Rutgers University in the U.S. and colleagues reveal in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they tried to look at the greenhouse century—the 100 years in which oil, gas and coal combustion began to change the mix of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and trigger a rise in planetary average temperatures—in the context of the last 27 centuries.

New Approach

They compiled a geological database that stretched back to the Bronze Age, which lasted, with regional variations, from the fourth to the first millennium before the Christian era. And they developed a new statistical approach to examine the sea-level indicators retrieved from marshes, coral atolls and archaeological sites around the world.

What sea level rise could look like at the Statue of Liberty in New York City. Photo credit: Climate Central

They report that although sea level rise might have happened without human action, it would have been less than half the observed 20th century increase and might even have fallen.

Had humans not piled greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, more than half the 8,000 coastal floods recorded at U.S. tide gauges in the last century might never have happened. On average, sea levels rose 14 cms between 1900 and 2000.

“The 20th century rise was extraordinary in the context of the last three millennia—and the rise over the last two decades has been even faster,” Dr. Kopp said.

In the same journal, a team led by Matthias Mengel, a postdoctoral researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany, report that they took a new look at what might happen to sea levels before 2100.

They modeled three scenarios for greenhouse gas emissions, incorporated the latest 20th-century data on melting glaciers and warming oceans and played with the mathematical approach in a new way to predict a set of outcomes.

Projected Increase

The most hopeful—based on the agreement by 195 nations last December at the UN climate change conference in Paris—led to a projected increase of between 28 and 56 cms. The most alarming outcome proposed a possible range of sea level rise from 57 to 131 cms.

What sea level rise could look like at the Ocean Drive in Miami. Photo credit: Climate Central

The two studies are designed to give practical information to city authorities and coastal planners.

Even a 60 cm rise means nations will have to think about coastal protection.

“With all the greenhouse gases we have already emitted, we cannot stop the seas from rising altogether, but we can substantially limit the rate of the rise by ending the use of fossil fuels,” said Co-Author Anders Levermann, a professor of climate system dynamics who is based both at Potsdam and at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in the U.S.

“This is quite a challenge, but less expensive than adaptation to unabated sea level rise, which in some regions is impossible,” Prof. Levermann said. “If the world wants to avoid the greatest losses and damage, it now has to rapidly follow the path laid out by the UN climate summit in Paris a few weeks ago.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Climate Experts to American Geophysical Union: Reject Exxon Sponsorship

Strongest Ever Southern Cyclone Crashes Into Fiji

6 Stunning Images Show Sense of Urgency to Act on Climate

Why Would the New York Post Plug Climate Denier Profiteers?

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
A Bureau of Land Management contractor's helicopter forces a wild horse into a trap during the recent roundup at the Salt Wells Creek. Steve Paige

Brutal Outlook for Healthy Wild Horses and Burros: BLM Calls for Shooting 90,000

On Thursday, the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board recklessly voted to approve recommendations that call on the Bureau of Land Management to shoot tens of thousands of healthy wild horses and burros.

At its meeting in Grand Junction, Colorado, the advisory board recommended that BLM achieve its on-range population goal of 26,715 wild horses and burros while also phasing out the use of long-term holding facilities—both within three years.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
www.youtube.com

‘Geostorm’ Movie and Climate Hacking: Are the Dangers Real?

By Jane A. Flegal and Andrew Maynard

Hollywood's latest disaster flick, "Geostorm," is premised on the idea that humans have figured out how to control the earth's climate. A powerful satellite-based technology allows users to fine-tune the weather, overcoming the ravages of climate change. Everyone, everywhere can quite literally "have a nice day," until—spoiler alert!—things do not go as planned.

Admittedly, the movie is a fantasy set in a deeply unrealistic near-future. But coming on the heels of one of the most extreme hurricane seasons in recent history, it's tempting to imagine a world where we could regulate the weather.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Area 1002 of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain. Wikimedia Commons.

GOP-Controlled Senate Paves Way for Oil Drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The Senate Republicans' narrow passage of the 2018 budget plan on Thursday opened the door for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR).

But Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups criticized the GOP for sneaking the "backdoor drilling provision" through the budget process. Past proposals to drill in the refuge have consistently failed.

Keep reading... Show less
iStock

Corporate Fleets Making the Switch to Electric Vehicles

By Gina Coplon-Newfield and Sung-Jae Park

Recently, 10 major transnational corporations launched EV100, a new global initiative to slash emissions by increasing the number of corporate fleet electric vehicles (EV) on the road. EV100 companies, including Ikea, Unilever and HP, are committing to, by 2030, integrate EVs into their owned or leased fleets and install EV charging stations for customers and employees.

The full initial list of companies, many of which operate many thousands of fleet vehicles, includes: Baidu, Deutsche Post DHL Group, Heathrow Airport, HP Inc., IKEA Group, LeasePlan, METRO AG, PG&E, Unilever and Vattenfall. Vattenfall, the Swedish power company that serves most of Europe, intends to meet the campaign's commitments, and then some. "Replacing our whole 3,500 car fleet with EV in the coming five years, working with our customers to deploy charging infrastructure, and building northern Europe's biggest connected charging network, are three examples of actions we are taking to promote a sustainable and climate smarter living for customers and citizens," Magnus Hall, CEO of Vattenfall, said.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
www.youtube.com

Losses From California Wildfires Top $1 Billion, Expected to Rise 'Dramatically'

Insured losses from fires in Northern California have topped $1 billion and are expected to rise "dramatically," state insurance officials announced Thursday.

Keep reading... Show less
Damage from Hurricane Maria. La Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica

Puerto Rico's Revival Depends on Empowering Small-Scale Farmers

Reporting by Saulo Araujo

Houses without roofs and trees without leaves is all the eyes could see in the week following the devastation that Hurricane Maria wrought. The Category 5 storm with 150+ miles per hour winds was the strongest to hit the island in over a century, leaving the entire population without water and power. Weeks later 3 million people are still without electricity.

Up in the mountains, small-scale farmers lost their crops, and their ability to feed their families was abruptly leveled. La Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica (Boricuá) a grassroots organization of more than 100 families made up of small-scale farmers, farmworkers and organizers across Puerto Rico and the islands of Vieques & Culebra, continues working to communicate with their members in rural areas and to assess the damages. Boricua has made great progress in the last three decades to organize and support farmers, facilitate farmer-to-farmer trainings, and build solidarity nationally and globally. They are helping to fuel agroecology on the island, bringing locally grown, nutritious food to their communities and to market.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
The damaged oil platform in Lake Pontchartrain, LA after the Oct. 15 explosion. U.S. Coast Guard

Gulf Oil Spill Off Louisiana Coast Is 2x Bigger Than Original Estimate

LLOG Exploration Company, LLC drastically underestimated the amount of oil its fractured pipeline spilled into the Gulf of Mexico last week.

The oil and gas operator first estimated that it spewed about 340,000 gallons of oil. Now, according to a Coast Guard announcement, the company is now reporting a discharge of 672,000 gallons—about two times the initial estimate.

Keep reading... Show less
Before and after images of EPA's climate and energy website. Environmental Data and Governance Initiative

New EPA Climate Change Website Doesn't Mention 'Climate Change'

In the Trump administration's ongoing efforts to pretend that climate change doesn't exist, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made dramatic changes to a website catered to helping states, local and tribal governments learn about global warming and how prepare and respond to the impacts of our hot new world, according to a new analysis from the watchdog group Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI).

As you can see in the screenshot above, the website site was previously titled "Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Governments." Now, it's called, "Energy Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Governments." Fifteen mentions of the term "climate change" were scrubbed from the original main page alone, and the old epa.gov/statelocalclimate URL even redirects to epa.gov/statelocalenergy.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

Get EcoWatch in your inbox