Scientists predict 'catastrophic' consequences of sea level rise over two metres

Rodiano Bonacci
Mag 21, 2019

The authors of the report, released on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said this outcome is the worst case scenario, in which global temperatures would warm more than five degrees Celsius by 2100.

The upper limit for sea level rise by 2100 has previously been estimated between 1.7 and 3.2ft. - the range given in the fifth assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading global body for the assessment of climate change, in 2013.

Traditional methods for predicting rising sea levels from the melting ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic are based on numerical modelling.

They asked them to consider the projected melting of each of the Greenland, West Antarctic and East Antarctic ice sheets under low and high future global temperature rise scenarios.

In October the IPCC released a landmark climate report that called for a drastic and immediate drawdown in coal, oil and gas consumption in order to arrest the rapid rise in the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Researchers of the study say a sea-level rise of the suggested magnitude would have profound consequences for humanity.

That report, however, did not include revised estimates of sea level rise.

While there was still a significant margin of error, they found it "plausible" that under the business-as-usual emissions scenario, sea-level rises could exceed two metres by 2100. "To put this into perspective, the Syrian refugee crisis resulted in about a million refugees coming into Europe", the study's lead author, Professor Jonathan Bamber of the University of Bristol, told the BBC.

"It was based on the assumption that we carry on increasing our emissions of greenhouse gasses into the future and sadly carbon emission have carried on increasing even after the Paris Agreement of 2015", he added. "That is about 200 times smaller than the number of people who would be displaced in a 2m sea-level rise".

"Such a rise in global sea level could result in land loss of 1.79 million square kilometers [around 695,000 square miles, ] including critical regions of food production, and potential displacement of up to 187 million people", he said.

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