Miami could know as early as 2020 how high sea levels will rise into the next century, according to a team of researchers including Florida International University scientist Rene Price.
Price is also affiliated with the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site, one of 25 such NSF LTER sites in ecosystems from coral reefs to deserts, mountains to salt marshes around the world.
Scientists conclude that sea level rise is one of the most certain consequences of climate change.
But the speed and long-term height of that rise are unknown. Some researchers believe that sea level rise is accelerating, some suggest the rate is holding steady, while others say it's decelerating.
With long-term data showing that global sea levels are steadily rising at 2.8 millimeters per year, and climate models indicating that the rate could accelerate over time, Price posed a question to colleagues: How soon will Miami residents know what sea levels will be in the year 2100?
"In Miami, we're at the forefront of sea level rise," Price says. "With the uncertainty in what we currently know, I was looking for information that could help us plan better for the long-term."
Price and a team of international researchers set out to answer the question.
They analyzed data from 10 sea level monitoring stations throughout the world.
They looked into the future by analyzing the past.
The researchers examined historical data to identify the timing at which accelerations might first be recognized in a significant manner and extended projections through 2100.
The findings are published in this week's issue of the journal Nature Communications.
"Sea level rise will have major effects on natural and built coastal environments," says David Garrison, program director in NSF's Division of Ocean Sciences, which co-funds the NSF LTER n
|Contact: Cheryl Dybas|
National Science Foundation