Sunday, April 26, 2009

High sea level discovery A breakthrough study of fluctuations in sea levels the last time Earth was between ice ages, as it is now, shows that oceans rose some three metres in only decades due to collapsing ice sheets. The findings suggest that such a scenario — which would redraw coastlines worldwide and unleash colossal human misery — is "now a distinct possibility within the next 100 years," said lead researcher Paul Blanchon, a geoscientist at Mexico's National University. The study was published by the science journal Nature.

Rising ocean water marks are seen by many scientists as the most serious likely consequence of global warming. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted in 2007 that sea levels will rise by up to 59 centimetres before 2100 due simply to the expansion of warmer ocean waters.

This relatively modest increase is already enough to render several small island nations uninhabitable, and to disrupt the lives of tens of millions of people living in low-lying deltas, especially in Asia and Africa.

But more recent studies have sounded alarms about the potential impact of crumbling ice sheets in western Antarctica and Greenland, which together contain enough frozen water to boost average global sea levels by at least 13 metres. A rapid three-metre rise would devastate dozens of major cities around the globe, including Shanghai, Calcutta, New Orleans, Miami and Dhaka…..

A crashing wave, Atlantic ocean, "Pointe du Souffleur", cliffs at Guadeloupe. Shot by rachel_thecat, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License

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