Humans are being wide off the mark regarding severity of global sea level rise, said a team of researchers in a new study published this week in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. The study team informed that the planet could experience much more rise in sea levels than previously estimated, thanks to climate change which is going to worsen in the future. The research team said that 2 degree Celsius target set by climate scientists and policymaker isn’t enough.
Several nations around the globe have pledged to curb greenhouse gas emissions and limit planet’s warming to 2 degrees Celsius by the next century, but these efforts are not sufficient to control sea level rise, suggested the study published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.
Currently, climate researchers are underestimating the severity of sea level rise and it could lead to a rise of several meters in world’s seas by 2100, said James Hansen, a renowned climate scientist at Columbia University and a researcher included in the study. Sea level rise of several meters could further lead to super-storms on earth, Hansen added. The famed researcher first warned about global warming in 1980s.
“We are in a position of potentially causing irreparable harm to our children, grandchildren and future generations. This is a complex story, but one with important practical implications”, as per Hansen.
The coastal water level rise alone will be the biggest problem for many of the coastal cities around the globe, said study researchers. Most of these cities will drown with the sea level rise of several meters, they added.
Many current climate models are not accounting for feedback mechanisms that create an association between the earth’s temperature rise and rise in sea levels non-linear, said the researchers. Melting of ice in Antarctica and Greenland is going to have unexpected consequences in the upcoming decades, they stated.
Hansen said the world should think about ‘gradually raising’ tax on fossil fuels so that a solution to the problem could be found.
According to a report in TIME by Justin Worland, "The finding, previously published in draft form last year, departs from most consensus research on the topic of sea level rise-a fact that Hansen and his counterparts state up front. The researchers suggest that most climate models don't account for the feedback mechanisms that make the correlation between temperature rise and sea level rise non-linear. Changes to circulation of warm and cold water in the Atlantic due to ice melting in Greenland and Antartica could have unanticipated effects, according to the study."
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an international body that publishes the scientific consensus on global warming used by many policymakers, has suggested that sea levels have risen by a few millimeters each year since the early 1990s. published published in the journal PNAS has suggested that sea levels will rise between 0.75 m (2.5 ft) and 1.9 m (6.2 ft) by 2100 as warming increases.
"The scientists estimate that existing climate models aren't accounting well enough for current ice loss off of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Right now, Antarctica and Greenland ice sheets both contribute under or near 1 millimeter to sea-level rise every year; they each contain enough stored ice to drive up ocean levels by 20 and 200 feet, respectively," according to a news report published by Newsweek.
But then again, we don't even know that ice loss is exponential. Ian Joughin-a University of Washington researcher unaffiliated with the paper and who has studied the tipping points of Antarctic glaciers-put it this way: Think about the stock market in the '80s. If you observed a couple years of accelerating growth, and decided that rate would double every 4 years-you'd have something like 56,000 points in the Dow Jones Industrial by now.
In a report published by the WatertownDailyYimes, "The sweeping paper, 52 pages in length and with 19 authors, draws on evidence from ancient climate change or "paleo-climatology," as well as climate experiments using computer models and some modern observations. Calling it a "paper" really isn't quite right - it's actually a synthesis of a wide range of old, and new, evidence."
"I think almost everybody who's really familiar with both paleo and modern is now very concerned that we are approaching, if we have not passed, the points at which we have locked in really big changes for young people and future generations," Hansen said in an interview.