March 10, 2009

Sea levels rising faster than predicted

ENVIRONMENT - Top climate scientists warned today that rising sea levels could rise twice as much as previously projected in 2007.

Right: NASA Photo of what the Earth would look like if the sea level rose 2 meters.

A 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted a sea level rise of 18 to 59 centimeters by 2100. But scientists meeting today in Copenhagen dismissed those estimates as too conservative, saying new data suggest that sea level rise will exceed 1 meter and happen a lot sooner than previously suggested.

"This means that if the emissions of greenhouse gases is not reduced quickly and substantially, even the best-case scenario will hit low-lying coastal areas housing one-tenth of humans on the planet hard," organizers said in a statement at the three-day congress hosted by the University of Copenhagen.

The melting of polar ice sheets and of glaciers are two big factors that will affect sea levels, they added.

"Unless we undertake urgent and significant mitigation actions, the climate could cross a threshold during the 21st century committing the world to a sea level rise of metres," said John Church of the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research.

The conclusions of the conference will be presented to politicians meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009 to discuss a new global agreement on greenhouse gas emissions to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Some 1,600 reports from nearly 80 countries have been submitted to the conference, many of them pointing to evidence of melting sea ice, melting ice in Greenland, Canada and Antarctica.

Last week a group of scientists at Laval University in Quebec announced arctic ice might melt completely in the Summer of 2013, which combined with melting ice in Greenland would raise sea levels by approx. 7 meters. The same scientists also said it was too late to stop the melting.

See Also:
Arctic Ice to vanish by 2013
Flooded Cities by 2013?
Toronto breaks temperature record, again
Vancouver and Montreal could become flooded
Greenland ice melting faster than expected

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