According to a recent NASA report, projections for global sea level rise for the next centuries are too optimistic. NASA researchers believe that sea levels may rise worldwide by a meter or more every century rather than a few centimeters as current models show.
Scientists know that global sea level is now eight inches (20 centimeters) higher than 100 years ago. But as global temperatures continue to rise, melting glaciers and polar ice caps continue to feed world’s oceans at an alarming rate. But that ‘alarming’ rate may not reflect the reality, NASA suggests. Things may get worse.
NASA explained that sea levels started to climb rapidly since 1992. Since then, in just two decades, global sea levels rose by three inches. But in 2012, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report stating that sea levels may rise between 11 and 38 inches by the end of the century. Those figures greatly varied depending on whether humanity would be able to reach the 2 C target or not.
But NASA suggests that even if that goal is reached and green house gases are curbed, sea levels may still threaten the lives and homes of populations living in coastal areas around the globe.
Eric Rignot, a researcher with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, estimates that a few inches rise may morph into a few meter rise in the next centuries. Mr. Rignot believes that humanity may experience sea level rises of half meter to several meters in just one century. The maximum rise Mr. Rignot forecasts is 6 meters per century.
The researcher explained that the IPCC didn’t take into account the land ice that is melting when making the estimates. Nevertheless, not even NASA scientists have a clear view on how much and how quick the ice is thinning.
Scientists cautioned for years that the melting rate is greatly accelerated since the 1970s and may further accelerate in the future. Researchers believe that they could predict more accurately sea level rises if they could calculate correctly just how fast ice sheets will be melting in the coming decades.
NASA noted that eight of the most crowded urban areas in the world are located in coastal areas. This includes U.S.A.’s New York, Japan’s Tokyo, and India’s Bombay.
NASA currently uses state-of-the-art radar systems that can detect a few millimeter change in sea levels from up to 40,000 feet. The space agency uses the data captured by both ground and space instruments to create climate models and predict future trends in rising ocean levels.
On Wednesday, the agency revealed a model based on data gathered by satellites over the course of two decades. According to the model, the U.S. west coast would experience a slower rise in the coming decade, but the phenomenon is set to accelerate in the Pacific.
Image Source: Flickr
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