Monday, December 7, 2009

Sea levels may rise three times more than first thought

Steve Connor in the Independent (UK): Sea levels may rise three times faster than the official predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the global average sea level may increase by as much as 1.9 metres (6ft 3in) by 2100, scientists said yesterday. The new assessment comes just one week after another international scientific body concluded that the IPCC had been too conservative in estimating a maximum of 59 centimetres of sea level rise this century as a result of global warming.
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Scientists believe earlier estimates failed to take into account gaps in the knowledge of how melting ice sheets will affect sea level, as well as technical errors in the calculations which have now been corrected, giving a much higher figure for estimated sea level rise than those published by the IPCC in its 2007 assessment.

A sea level rise of 1.9m would result in large tracts of eastern England being inundated with seawater, and would wipe out many low-lying island nations as well as making large parts of Bangladesh uninhabitable. It would also increase the chances of storm surges flooding major coastal cities, such as New York and London, even with the protection offered by the Thames Barrier.

The latest study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that global average sea levels are likely to rise by between 75cm and 190cm by the end of the century, due to the thermal expansion of the warmer oceans and the melting of mountain glaciers and polar ice sheets.

Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, and Martin Vermeer of Helsinki University of Technology in Finland, said sea levels are rising faster as a result of temperature increases, especially at the poles, which are warming at a faster rate than many other parts of the world….

The Brighton Jetty, shot by Adina Levy, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License

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