Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How serious is the sea level rise threat?

There have been numerous studies pointing to the connection between climate change and sea level rise, warning the world that in not so far future from now many parts of the world will likely experience severe flooding if global temperatures continue to grow.

The latest such study comes from Michael Schaeffer of Climate Analytics and Wageningen University who claims that even if we limit global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius, global sea levels will still continue to rise, reaching between 1.5 and 4 metres above present-day levels by the year 2300.

He also concluded that if world were to limit rise in global temperatures to below 1.5 degrees Celsius this would likely halve sea-level rise by 2300, compared to a 2-degree scenario.

These studies attract plenty of public attention, despite being just assumptions of future „could be“ scenarios. The scientists admit the fact that it is very difficult to quantify the level of sea level rise in years to come, especially because it is still uncertain whether global sea level found for the past could be carried into the future.

These future estimates, despite still being connected with significant level of uncertainty, all point to the fact that we must take sea level rise issue far more seriously than we are doing it today.

If we continue business as usual scenario sea level rise will spell major problems for many coastal areas all over the globe. Coastal communities are already running out of time to adapt to global rise in sea levels.

The affected areas will not only be low lying deltaic countries like Bangladesh and Netherlands, and small islands, but also major cities such as New York. Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said that one metre sea level rise would increase the frequency of severe flooding from once per century to once every three years for New York City.

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