Monday, June 26, 2017

Rising Tides, Sinking Continents: The IPCC's Worrisome Revised Sea Level Estimates

Estimates of Sea Level Rise by 2100 Have Tripled in the Past Few Years 


June 26, 2017

In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change opined that if greenhouse gas emissions continued on current trends, the likely maximum of sea level rise by 2100 was about one meter.

In May 2016, only three years later, a study in the prestigious scientific journal Nature concluded that if high levels of greenhouse gas emissions continued, oceans could rise by close to two meters by the end of the century.

In less than three years, scientists essentially doubled the IPC's 2013 estimate of maximum sea level rise by 2100. The IPCC estimate relied on the notion that expanding ocean waters and the melting of relatively small glaciers would fuel the majority of sea level rise, rather than the massive ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. It turns out, however, that scientists were underestimating the rate at which the giant ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland were melting. About one month ago, scientists increased their estimates of sea level rise even further. New research, including from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, increased the plausible sea level rise maximum to as much as 2.7 meters. Thus, in the space of a mere five years, the scientific community nearly tripled its estimate of maximum sea level rise under a business-as-usual scenario.

Environmental activist Peter Sinclair examines the growing threat of sea level rise.

Peter Sinclair is a videographer, creator of two video series on climate change, Climate Denial Crock of the Week, and This is Not Cool, which is a regular feature of Yale Climate Connections. He is media director of the Dark Snow Project, an international team of scientists and communicators, which has taken him with scientists to research areas such as the North Cascades Glaciers and the Greenland Ice Sheet. He lives and works in Midland, MI. 

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