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Sea level rise is real and accelerating: PNAS study

A new report based on 25 years of satellite data says that sea levels are rising at an increasing pace. 

A new report in the US-based Proceedings of the National Academy of  Sciences (PNAS) journal released Monday, says that sea level rise is accelerating and could reach 66 centimeters (26 inches) by the end of the century. The projected sea level rise is in line with United Nations estimates and will be enough to cause significant problems for coastal cities.

According to the report, the past annual rate of sea level rise -- about three millimeters per year -- may more than triple to 10 millimeters per year by 2100. "This acceleration, driven mainly by accelerated melting in Greenland and Antarctica, has the potential to double the total sea level rise by 2100 as compared to projections that assume a constant rate -- to more than 60 centimeters instead of about 30 and this is almost certainly a conservative estimate," said the author of the study Steve Nerem., a professor of aerospace engineering sciences at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The report said that the findings are "roughly in agreement with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report (AR5) model projections." Anny Cazenave, director of Earth science at the International Space Science Institute in France, said that sea level rise, more than temperature, is a better gauge of climate change in action. Cazenave, who is one of the pioneers of space-based sea level research, edited the study.

Climate change leads to rising sea levels in two ways. First, higher concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere boost the temperature of water and warm water expands. Nerem said that this so-called "thermal expansion" of the oceans has already contributed to about half of the seven centimeters of average global sea level rise in the past quarter century. Second, oceans levels rise with the increasing flow of water due to rapidly melting ice at the poles.

Global sea levels were stable for about 3,000 years, said climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute in Germany. It was in the 20th century that they started rising and then accelerated due to global warming caused by the greenhouse gas emissions through burning fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. Rahmstorf wasn't part of the study.

Source: Deutsche Welle  

Päivitetty/Updated: 13.02.2018




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