A study just published in the Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences reveals that the Earth’s sea levels are rising faster than any time in past 2800 years. The research is the first global statistical analysis of several individual studies of the history of global sea level going back more than 2,500 years.
Rise in sea level is but one of the repercussions of global warming. First, shrinking land ice, such as mountain glaciers and polar ice sheets, is releasing water into the oceans. Second, as ocean temperatures rise, the warmer water expands. Trapped within a basin bounded by the continents, the water has nowhere to go but up.
In some parts of the world, especially low-lying river deltas, local land is sinking (known as subsidence), making sea levels that much higher. The consequences of sea level rise include threats to coastal communities and saltwater intrusion (saltwater intrudes into groundwater drinking supplies, contaminates irrigation supplies, or overruns agricultural fields).
However, our planet’s ocean levels have changed over time even before global warming became an alarming situation, but this fluctuation has been gradual such that the sea rose by only 3 inches in 27 centuries. This means that the increase would be around 1 inch per century.
Moreover, the figure spiralled up to 5.5 inches in the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution. Thereafter, the rise has been happening at unprecedentedly high rates. Given the current situations, the rise would be equivalent to a foot every 100 years. According to estimates, the sea will have risen by 52 inches by 2100.
The new findings show that the increase in the 20th century has been the fastest in 3,000 years. The study focused on historical records, modern testing, and statistics to evaluate the fluctuating sea levels throughout the years.
The lead author of this paper, Bob Kopp from Rutgers University, explains that the 20th century having known great use of fossil fuel witnessed a high rate of temperature increase which caused the sea level rise.
Kopp and his team analysed 24 coastlines, marshes, and archipelagos across the globe. They also examined 66 tide-gauge records that went as far back as 1700.
They found that sea levels were even decreasing before the Industrial revolution – that trend might have persisted if not for the human activities that ensued from then on. According to their results, sea levels will rise between 22 to 52 inches this century if global warming is not curbed; otherwise, the ocean level will only rise to a lesser extent.
I think we can definitely be confident that sea-level rise is going to continue to accelerate if there’s further warming, which inevitably there will be.
declared Stefan Rahmstorf of Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
There is no evidence yet of large numbers of coastal homes and developments disappearing into the surge due to the rising sea level.
However, there have been some reports of related flooding in low-lying areas, causing many nuisances and problems, such as standing salt water disrupting traffic in neighborhoods, dying lawns, polluted fresh water supplies and clogged drains.
Furthermore, another paper from Climate Central, argues that around 75% of tidal floods on the East Coast are the result of rising sea levels, and human activities. In a statement to The Times, its lead author, Dr. Benjamin H. Strauss, states that the problem is neither the tide nor the wind, but us.
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