Science News

Sea Levels Are Rising Fast, Study Finds

Rising Flood Levels

Sea levels are rising and a new analysis shows that they are rising fast, according to a recent analysis conducted by the University of Tasmania and Australia’s national science agency CISRO which indicates sea levels have risen within the last two decades at a rate of approximately 2.6 to 2.9 millimeters per year.

While this may seem small, it adds up, especially when their new analysis of satellite records showed that sea level rise has increased in speed since 1993; this in relation to the slower rate over the prior decade.

Using tide gauge data and GPS measurements of land movement, the scientists behind the study analyzed satellite data from 1993 to 2014.  Their analysis found and corrected small inaccuracies in existing satellite data. The results were published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Lead author Dr. Christopher Watson said that their research showed a small overestimation of sea level rise from 1993 to 1999 had distorted previous trends. Watson went on to refer to the study’s “consistency with future projections of sea level in the IPCC” as “striking”.

What’s striking is its consistency with future projections of sea level in the IPCC.  Those estimates state that there could be up to 99 centimeters.  We’re certainly tracking on that upper bound of the IPCC projection and that projection to 2100 has significant impacts.

According to a report on USA Todaysea levels rose about 1.7 millimeters a year throughout the 20th century.  The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that sea levels have risen nearly 8 inches since 1880.

Dr. John Church of CSIRO indicated that their results show that projections are up for a 98 centimeter rise by 2100 if global greenhouse gases are allowed to continue unabated and that rising levels “will place increasing stress on the coastal zone”.

The projections reduce to a rise of between 28 and 61 cm if we follow paths that include very stringent mitigation of global emissions. Rising sea levels will place increasing stress on the coastal zone – inundation events will become more frequent and adaptation will need to occur.

According to Discovery News, many major cities in the U.S. stand at the precipice of regular minor coastal flooding, while some cities such as Baltimore and Honolulu have already seen their likelihood of coastal flooding increase since 1930.

Storm surge events are another impact of sea level rise, such as the ones during Hurricane Sandy back in October of 2013.  Sea level rise has doubled the risk of Sandy-level flooding since 1950.

In other climate change news covered here in Immortal News, the NOAA found that atmospheric carbon dioxide has reached its highest point in 5 million years.

What do you think about rising sea levels?

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