Science

Global sea levels could rise far more than predicted

Global sea levels could rise far more than predicted”

The vast ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica contain enough frozen water to lift the world's oceans dozens of metres.

"Such a rise in global sea level could result in land loss of 1.79 million square kilometre, including critical regions of food production, and potential displacement of up to 187 million people".

Ice scientists are also concerned that the models currently used to predict the influence of huge ice sheets on sea levels don't capture all of the uncertainties about how these are now melting.

Researchers who conducted the story predict that in the worst case scenario under which global temperatures increase by 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, sea levels could rise by more than two meters (6.6 feet) in the same period - double the upper limit outlined by the United Nations climate science panel's last major report, according to CNN.

A team of global scientists used a technique called structured expert judgment to ask 22 ice sheet experts to estimate plausible ranges for future sea level rises.

"A sea-level rise of this magnitude would clearly have profound consequences for humanity", they said. The IPCC released a special report last October that warned the global community had only about 12 years left to prevent climate catastrophe, but that report did not include updated projects for sea level rise.

The structured expert judgement study, published Monday by the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), brought together 22 experts.

The authors said the area of land lost to the ocean could be equivalent to that of France, Germany, Spain and Britain combined and would displace more than 180 million people.

"That is about 200 times smaller than the number of people who would be displaced in a two meter sea level rise".

The Paris climate deal, struck between nations in 2015, aims to limit global temperature rises to well below two degrees Celsius, and encourages countries to work towards a 1.5 degree Celcius cap.

Earth has already heated one degree Celcius since pre-industrial times, contributing roughly 3 milimetres to sea levels each year.

At wider probabilities - 5-95 per cent likelihood - they found that under 2C of warming seas could rise 36-126cm by 2100.

Willy Aspinall, another author of the study from the University of Bristol, said he hoped the results could make decision-makers aware of the potential for higher SLR than expected.

"The IPCC report in 2013 only considered what is "likely" to happen, which in scientific terms means they looked at 17-83 percent of the range of possibilities", explained BBC News.



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