A new study suggests that global warming may cause a 20-foot sea level rise despite our best efforts of limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius, which is the current target threshold of climate change negotiations.
The study, which was published July 8 in the journal Science, compared the current levels of greenhouse gas emissions to those 3 million years ago and drew some conclusions on how severe sea level rising may get.
Study authors claim that three million years ago, when the average global temperature was three to five degrees F warmer, sea levels were 20 feet higher than what we see today.
So, researchers believe that the 20-foot rise scenario may repeat despite global leaders’ effort of tackling climate change. A summit aimed at finding real solutions to the issue is slated for December in Paris.
“Even if we meet that 2 degrees C target, in the past with those types of temperatures, we may be committing ourselves to this level of sea-level rise in the long term,”
noted Andrea Dutton, co-author of the study and professor at the University of Florida.
But Ms. Dutton has an even gloomier view on the future. She said that any decision world leaders take at this point would lock us onto a pathway that has no turning back. Additionally, she cautioned that the changes may be “irreversible,” once ice sheets start to melt away.
Climate Central scientists conducted a separate study to learn what the consequences of a 2-foot rise in global sea levels are. Scientists said that their model predict Louisiana would lose its boot, the San Francisco Bay Area would gain a second inland bay, while the coastal urban areas such as New York and Hong Kong would be severely threatened.
Currently, sea levels are eight inches higher than their pre-industrial times. But eight inches were enough to trigger constant flooding on coastal regions such as Honolulu and India and the emergence of devastating hurricanes like Sandy.
The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change wrote in a report that sea level rise my hit 39 inches by 2100 if we fail to reduce current levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate Central experts say that more than 150 million people that currently live in coastal regions would either see their homes engulfed by the sea or damaged by constant flooding by the end of the century. Additionally, 26 major cities in the U.S. will have to tackle a flooding crisis by 2050.
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