It may be to late to stop sea level rise

Scientific papers suggest even if humanity stop global warming gas emissions, a six meter sea level rise might be inevitable. 

Scientific studies say it may be too late to stop a six meter sea level rise. Even if greenhouse gases emissions were stopped immediately, two previous prehistoric interglacial period which had similar levels of CO2 in the atmosphere resulted in dramatic rising of the oceans.

"Ghost of oceans past" a study conducted by Andrea Dutton and featured in the journal Science found that modest rises in global temperatures  in the past led to at least a six meter rise of sea levels.

“Even if we meet that 2°C target, in the past with those types of temperatures, we may be committing ourselves to this level of sea level rise in the long term. The decisions we make now about where we want to be in 2100 commit us on a pathway where we can’t go back. Once these ice sheets start to melt, the changes become irreversible.”

With more sophisticated sea-level reconstructions the authors can infer that temperatures slightly higher than the ones experienced today can upset the climatic balance despite the belief of catastrophic damage being avoided if global warming is held to no more than 2 degrees Celsius.

“During the last interglacial — a warm period between ice ages 125,000 years ago — the global average temperature was similar to the present and this was linked to a sea-level rise of 6-9 meters, caused by melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica. Around 400,000 years ago, when global average temperatures were estimated to be between 1 to 2°C higher than preindustrial levels, sea levels reached 6-13 meters [higher,]” says a summary of the paper.

Another paper, State of the Climate in 2014, in which 413 scientists from 58 countries collaborated reports that Arctic sea-surface temperatures are rising faster than overall global temperatures.

With ice caps in the Northern Hemisphere shrinking and record high permafrost temperatures recorded in northern Alaska and Greenland the paper reports even if greenhouse gases were frozen at current levels, the oceans would continue to warm for centuries and lead to rising sea levels.

“Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases are preventing heat radiated from Earth’s surface from escaping into space as freely as it used to; most of the excess heat is being stored in the upper ocean. As a result, upper ocean heat content has increased significantly over the past two decades.”

Both papers conclude there is no going back. The excess heat stored in oceans will be released back into the atmosphere in the future, while the planet continues to cross no return points. A six meter sea level rise would mean more than 1.14 million km2  would go underwater, according to Climate Central.

With this being the less rosy picture than conventional ideas of major damage being avoided, it may be already too late to stop sea level rise and the flooding of several regions around the world. 

Latin American Post

We use cookies to improve our website. By continuing to use this website, you are giving consent to cookies being used. More details…