[Note: This image does not prove global warming, but it is dramatic]
More worrying news from the climate change front. Scientists have said that even if deep emissions cuts lower global average temperatures, sea levels will continue to rise over the next couple of hundred years.
This is not ideal as rising sea levels threaten about a tenth of the world’s population who live in low-lying areas and islands which are at risk of flooding. That’s about 700 million people, if you were wondering. Greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for increasing global average surface temperatures by about 0,17 degrees Celsius a decade from 1980 – 2010 and for a sea level rise of about 2,3mm a year from 2005 – 2010.
Unfortunately, even if aggressive measures are made to cut emissions, scientists say sea levels will continue to rise. This is because warmer temperatures penetrate deep into the sea, and as the water warms and expands the heat mixes through different ocean regions. Even if global average temperatures fall and the surface layer of the sea cools, heat would still be mixed down into the deeper layers of the ocean, causing continued rises in sea levels.
If global average temperatures continue to rise, the melting of ice sheets and glaciers would only add to the problem.
The scientists calculated that if the deepest emissions cuts were made and global temperatures cooled to 0,83 degrees in 2100 – forecast based on the 1986 – 2005 average – and 0,55 degrees by 2300, the sea level rise due to thermal expansion would continue to increase – from 14, 2cm in 2100 to 24,2cm in 2300.
If the weakest emissions cuts were made, temperatures could rise to 3.91 degrees Celsius in 2100 and the sea level rise could increase to 32,3cm, increasing to 139,4cm by 2300
The part of the story that made me sit up a little straighter, and consider investing in higher land was this:
“Though sea-level rise cannot be stopped for at least the next several hundred years, with aggressive mitigation it can be slowed down, and this would buy time for adaptation measures to be adopted,” the scientists added.
The words “buy time for adaptation” are fantastically scary, and underscore how serious the problem is. These scientists are saying we need to cut our losses. Things are going to get bad and as much as we would like to stop them from happening, we have to start thinking on how to adapt to them. It seems, whether you are a believer in climate change or not, the ocean levels are rising, they are going to continue to rise, and we need to prepare.
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