A new study suggests that rising sea levels may soon accelerate from inches to more than 20 feet as rising temperatures continue to melt away Greenland and Antarctica.
Study authors explained that at least a couple of 20-foot sea level rises occurred over the course of the past three million years. Back then, the climate was very similar to the one we currently experience.
If the 20-foot rise prediction is accurate, tens of thousands of coastal communities worldwide may see their homes washed away by persistent flooding and an unprecedented surge in tropical storms. NASA too is concerned that its coastal launching pads may soon disappear under the sea.
But coastal communities are already struggling with flooding due to a 8 inch rising since the late 1800s. Yet, sea level rise skyrocketed in the 1990s, researchers suggested.
“Studies have shown that both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets contributed significantly to this sea level rise above modern levels,”
said Anders Carlson of the Oregon State University and senior researcher involved in the study.
Mr. Carlson added that CO2 levels we experience today are very much the same as those 3 million years ago, when the sea level was about 19 feet higher. Peter Clark, co-author of the study and paleoclimatology expert at the Oregon State University, argued that because current CO2 levels match those 3 million years ago we are already on the path of a “certain amount of sea level rise.”
Mr. Clark also said that we are entering an “uncharted territory” as carbon dioxide levels continue to rise. He also said that the full impact of sea level rise due to melting ice sheets may be visible within centuries to a few millennia.
Ohio State researchers found that sea levels were 20 to 30-foot higher 125,000 years ago than the ones we see today. At that time, temperatures were 1.8 degrees higher than those recorded before the Industrial Revolution, which is the same level we currently experience.
Scientists estimate that the situation may have been even worse 400,000 years ago when sea level rose by 20 to 40 feet because the temperatures were 3.6 higher than preindustrial levels.
At that time, CO2 measured 280 parts per million, while in our times we see 400 parts per million and rising. Scientists claim that the Earth’s atmosphere had a 400 ppm CO2 concentration 3 million years ago. Yet, they couldn’t tell how high the sea level rose due to inconsistent coastal records.
Image Source: Oxfam