Global sea level rise is accelerating as a result of ocean water warming and sooner-than-expected ice loss from the west Antarctica and Greenland ice sheets, and could reach 26 inches by 2100, according to a study published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The findings, based on 25 years of satellite data, are in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates and enough to cause major issues for people living in coastal cities. Sea level rise of roughly two feet would make extreme water levels worse, including high tides and storm surges.
Researchers observed a 2.8-inch rise in sea levels since 1993, but said the rate was not constant at .1 inches per year, and predicted the rate to increase by .39 inches per year.
“This acceleration, driven mainly by accelerated melting in Greenland and Antarctica, has the potential to double the total sea level rise by 2100 as compared to projections that assume a constant rate — to more than 60 centimeters instead of about 30,” study author Steve Nerem, a professor of aerospace engineering sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, told AFP.
“And this is almost certainly a conservative estimate,” he added. “Our extrapolation assumes that sea level continues to change in the future as it has over the last 25 years. Given the large changes we are seeing in the ice sheets today, that’s not likely.”